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Friday, 27 January 2012

U.P. government in trouble over MGNREGS funds

Centre favours CBI inquiry into alleged misappropriation of funds

With the Congress-led Union government favouring a CBI enquiry, in its affidavit before the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court, into embezzlement in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme funds, trouble is apparently brewing for the BSP government under Chief Minister Mayawati, who is already bearing the brunt of the NHRM scam in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.

The Centre filed the affidavit on Tuesday in response to a show cause issued by the High Court in connection with a PIL filed before it seeking a CBI probe into the misappropriation of funds by authorities in the State where polls have been notified and are to be held in seven phases. The next hearing has been posted to January 30.

“It is imperative to have a preliminary enquiry conducted by an independent agency like the CBI,” the Union Ministry of Rural Development categorically stated. If the court so desired, “such an enquiry may be ordered.”

The Ministry informed the court that its efforts to seek the concurrence of the State government to agree to a CBI probe had met with failure. The affidavit said Union Minister of Rural Development Jairam Ramesh wrote twice to the Chief Minister seeking her approval for the probe, but the latter declined permission.

The affidavit underlined the Centre's limitations in ordering a CBI probe, without the concurrence of the State government, into the anomalies reported by, among others, State-level quality monitors. Under the Delhi Police Establishment Act, in the absence of consent from the State government, the only other option for a CBI probe could be on the orders of a constitutional court like the High Court.

The Ministry has appended the correspondence exchanged between Mr. Ramesh and the U.P. government and the reports by competent bodies establishing grave irregularities and misappropriation of funds by authorities responsible for implementation of MGNREGS in districts such as Mahoba, Balrampur, Gonda, Kushi Nagar, Sonbhadra, Sant Kabir Nagar and Mirzapur.

The present CBI probe into the NRHM irregularities was ordered by the High Court. The scam led to the murder of two medical officers, while an engineer attached with the scheme committed suicide.

The Chief Minister, while turning down the request for a CBI probe into MGNREGS funds, complained to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that Mr. Ramesh was indulging in politics and breaching the federal structure.

Ms. Mayawati has dismissed several Ministers in the past couple of months for their involvement in the NRHM scam in an apparent bid to refurbish her image in the Assembly elections.

Mr. Ramesh, in his letters, accused the Chief Minister of allowing misappropriation of MGNREGS funds by not taking any action against those allegedly found in the wrong by various probes.

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