MNREG ‘scam’: Fake muster rolls prepared, work done only on paper, finds vigilance probe

Fake muster rolls signed by ghost workers and work done only on paper, with no account maintained in some cases, are the preliminary evidence that point to an embezzlement of funds to the tune of nearly Rs 17.5 lakh released under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Guarantee Act (MNREGA). The irregularities have been reported from Sunni tehsil of Shimla district.

The amounts sanctioned to the panchayat during the year 2008 and till January 2010 under various schemes, such as school repairs, construction of water tanks and school toilets, were allegedly shown to have been channelised through MNREGA by preparing fake muster rolls, mentioning people who either did not exist or were relatives of the vice-pradhan and pradhan who did not work on the ground.

These allegations had emerged in a complaint filed to the State Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau in February this year by Kewal Raj Verma, a resident of Dharogra panchayat. Preliminary inquiry by the agency found substance in the complaint and directed the district police to register a case. An FIR has been registered at the Dhalli police station against the pradhan, the vice-pradhan and the panchayat secretary of Sunni.

It has also emerged that the amount of Rs 10 lakh received by the panchayat as award money from the state government for unanimously electing its representatives during the previous panchayat elections was also allegedly misappropriated by the pradhan, the vice-pradhan and the panchayat secretary by preparing fake muster rolls showing construction of new rooms in the existing panchayat office building. It has been alleged that the cost of construction was escalated due to this and nearly Rs 3.5 lakh was embezzled.

Some of the muster rolls also include names of people who are residents of other panchayats. According to the complaint, the people shown to have worked under the MNREGA schemes are either pensioners or well-off people, whereas the poor were ignored.

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