UP govt. orders recovery of used NREGS money from pradhans

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Lucknow, Oct 12 (UNI)Even as the Uttar Pradesh government has ruled out irregularities in the implementation of the much-hyped National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) in the state, the Rural Development department has ordered recovery of money from village officials as well as gram pradhans who have allegedly squandered money under the scheme.

The order has been issued to district officials to carry out investigations in implementation of NREGS and recovery should be ordered from the officials, be it gram pradhans or lekhpals, if they were found involved in the irregularities.

Pradhan of Nohirwan gram sabha in Banda district of Bundelkhand region was asked to pay Rs 1.2 lakh to the government after it was proved, through an inquiry, that he had got a job card made in the name of his relatives and deprived the bonafide beneficiaries of government help.

In Nosherwan village of the same district, the pradhan was made to pay Rs 58,000 while in Patha village the pradhan paid Rs 1.03 lakh that he had squandered in the name of NREGS.

A senior official in Banda confirmed that 23 village pradhans were served recovery notices of which 14 had already made payments to the state exchequer.

The state Rural Development department sources said that lower level officials including lekhpals, tehsildars and BDOs had also been indicted in almost four dozen probes carried out in implementation of this scheme.

There had been several complaints about irregularities in the implementation of the NREGS under which the poor and illiterate were given jobs at their villages only.

Under the NREG Act,adopted in 2007, poor landless villagers were ensured at least 100 days of job every year and Rs 100 wages per day. Job cards were given to bona fide farmers only after verification by gram pradhans.

Though the scheme was aimed to bring the poor out of the debt trap and provide them jobs at their doorsteps, pradhans, in connivance with lower level officials, gave job cards to those who did not deserve them. In some cases pradhans even made fake job cards.

Opposition parties, particularly Congress had been crying hoarse about corruption in implementation of NREGS, but the state government had claimed it was effectively implemented in UP.

Senior officials are tight-lipped about the inquiries carried out in NREGS as well as the recovery ordered from village level officials.

State Rural Development Minister Dadoo Prasad also admitted that implementation of every government project is linked with corruption but credit should go to the government for pin-pointing lapses and taking action against the guilty.

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