Ramesh dares Mayawati to recommend CBI probe into MGNREGA

Jairam Ramesh
New Delhi, Oct 25: Accusing the Mayawati government of not taking adequate action against those allegedly involved in embezzling Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) funds, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has dared the Uttar Pradesh chief minister to recommend a CBI probe into its implementation if she had nothing to hide.

In a hard-hitting letter to the chief minister of the poll-bound state, Ramesh alleged that the Mayawati government "has not been taking any worthwhile action" on the findings and recommendations of National Level Monitors (NLMs) appointed by his Ministry and State Quality Monitor (SQM) in relation to implementation of MGNREGA.

"...If the state government has nothing to hide and has a clear conscience, it should have no objection to our request to have a thorough CBI inquiry conducted into MGNREGA implementation in some districts of the state based on the findings the NLMs and SQMs and the various media reports that have apppeared," the minister said.

Ramesh said he was looking forward to hearing from Mayawati and her "concurrence for an urgent CBI probe" into the implementation of MGNREGA in Balrampur, Gonda, Mahoba, Sonbhadra, Sant Kabir Nagar, Mirzapur and Kushinagar districts.

Pressing further, Ramesh said, "The need for such a CBI probe is urgent since the labour budget under MGNREGA has exceeded Rs5,000 crore in 2011/12 in UP which, incidentally, has all been borne by the central government".

"The criminal conspiracies in these districts to defraud the central and state government appear to be as scandalous as what has been the case with the National Rural Health Mission in the state which is the subject of an ongoing CBI investigation," he said in the letter dated October 24.

Alleging that the implementation of MGNREGA in Uttar Pradesh has been "far from satisfactory", Ramesh said many "serious and brazen" violations and cases of "deliberate embezzlement of funds" have been coming to the notice of the Rural Development Ministry from time to time.

He pointed out that 22 National Level Monitors' reports, which pointed out grave irregularities, have been pending for action with the state government for months together.

"I find that findings of the State Quality Monitor himself in relation to the implementation of MGNREGA in the four districts of Sonbhadra, Mirzapur, Kushinagar and Sant Kabeernagar have been ignored," the minister said.

"No action has been taken on the recommendations regarding the probing disproportionate asset or criminal liability of officials. Some officials appear to have been suspended but there has been no action on the many other recommendations made by this impartial inquiry conducted by an officer well known for his integrity," he said.

Coming down heavily on the Mayawati government, Ramesh alleged that the signal that has gone out by the "state government's continuing inaction is clear -- make money openly, flout all rules and procedures bluntly and nothing will happen to you if you have the patronage of the ruling establishment."

The minister said that his ministry has the option of stopping funds to Uttar Pradesh, either wholly or partially, for MGNREGA till "credible action" has been taken by the state government on the reports submitted by the NLMs and SQMs.

"But this would amount to penalising the poor people of the state for crimes committed by officials at various levels and their political patrons," Ramesh said.


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