Patna: The MGNREGA programme in Bihar has run into a controversy. A survey conducted by an NGO shows that nearly 75 per cent of funds have been allegedly siphoned off by local officials. In some cases, money was allegedly withdrawn in the names of people, who don't even exist.
In one of such cases, over Rs 5,000 was withdrawn from the MNREGA job account of Mukut Paswan. A similar transaction happened through the job account of Baban Paswan. However, both claim that they had worked for only half the days shown in the statements and that they never got the money. "We were provided job for 10 or 15 days and were paid Rs 120 a day," says Baban Paswan.
The survey claims that out of a total of Rs 8189 crore spent in Bihar under MNERGA scheme since 2006, Rs 6000 crore - i.e. 73 per cent of the total money spent - was pocketed by lower bureaucracy and panchayat officials. No independent verification of this figure has been made yet, but it has certainly embarrassed the Nitish Kumar government.
The issue has lent fresh ammunition to the Opposition to target the JD(U) government with the Rashtriya Janata Dal seeking a CBI inquiry into the matter. "We want to CBI to investigate the matter," says RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui. The Bihar government, however, claims to have already ordered a probe into the matter. "A probe has already been ordered and the guilty will be punished," says Rural Development Minister Nitish Mishra.