DW BUREAU / CHANDIGARH
Union Food Processing Industries Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal today said Punjab was plagued by a MNREGA mafia which was pocketing central funds meant for poor farmers and labourers and urged Rural Development Minister Narendra Tomar to initiate strict action against Congress functionaries and officials responsible for this.
In a letter to the Rural Development Minister, the Union Minister said as per media reports MNREGA funds meant for poor farmers and labourers were being siphoned off by Congress functionaries in league with corrupt officials adversely affecting the success of the scheme in the State. She said as per a UGC study covering 65 villages in 22 districts the scheme was also not being managed properly and could only generate 20.23 average days of employment in a year against the mandated 100 days. She said the study said only 1.64 per cent beneficiary households got the mandated 100 days employment while 21.29 per cent did not get any work. Mrs Badal said as per reports beneficiaries had to pay bribes to get a Job Card and that in many cases such cards were made in the name of big farmers.
Requesting the Rural Development minister to intervene in the matter, she said cases should be registered against all those misusing and misappropriating central funds. She also urged the minister to carry out an inspection of MNREGA work in Budhlada, Bathinda Rural and Buchho in Bathinda parliamentary constituency as there were large scale complaints of misuse of MNREGA funds by government officers in connivance with Sarpanches and local Congress leaders.
Harsimrat also brought the issue of severe misuse of MNREGA funds in Faridkot district to the notice of the Rural Development minister and said a central team had reported large scale embezzlement and misappropriation of funds. She said it had been revealed that works which were to be done to benefit the public were carried out to benefit private farm houses with norms for expenditure on wages and materials also been openly flouted. She said the extent of the fraud could be seen from the fact that dead persons were shown as labourers in the record.