New Delhi: Rural Development Minister
Vilasrao Deshmukh today said money allocated for the
government`s flagship MGNREGA programme was being "siphoned
off" and warned that CBI probe would have to be ordered
wherever such allegations are noticed.
Deshmukh also said that on the direction of the Supreme
Court, the CBI has already launched probe in two states --
Orissa and Jharkhand -- where irregularities were reported.
"As you are aware that CBI inquiry is initiated in some
states regarding the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA works. I request you
to be utmost careful in implementing this," he said while
inaugurating a two-day national conference of project
directors of District Rural Development Agencies (DRDAs).
"Unfortunately, we had to initiate CBI enquiry against
some of the districts. Complaints are coming especially on the
corruption. Huge money we are giving to the rural poor but the
money is siphoned off in different way. We have no option, but
to initiate CBI enquiry," he said.
Asking officials to "understand the seriousness of the
issue", the minister told them to avoid circumstances to have
more CBI inquiry in future.
"My request to you all is: please be careful," Deshmukh
Later, speaking to reporters, he said CBI probe has been
launched in some districts of Jharkhand and Orissa.
"There are serious irregularities. Otherwise, CBI
inquiry would not have been initiated," he said.
"It is a serious issue that the money alloted to NREGA
is not reaching to the rural poor, the real beneficiaries, and
it being siphoned off by others," Deshmukh said.
Asked whether state governments will be held responsible
for corruption in MGNREGA, the minister said, "Basically, we
have a plan of each district. So the districts will be held
responsible. Not the state as a whole."
"The Supreme Court suggested the government to start CBI
inquiry. We accepted the Supreme Court suggestion. As far as
Jharkhand is concerned, there was a murder of an RTI activist.
That particular inquiry, we have given to CBI," he said.
Asked about the Supreme Court`s intervention in
straightening things in the ministry, he said, "If somebody
goes to the Supreme Court, there is every right to the Supreme
Court to give suggestions or directions to the government.
There is nothing wrong."
He said the ministry was focussing on implementing a
"strong social auditing" to correct the whole system.
Deshmukh also praised the districts like Barmer and
Tirunamalai which have done "excellent work" in implementing
the rural employment guarantee scheme.
"The ministry is working on overcoming the problems
faced in the implementation of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA and I`m
sure that we will be able to achieve desired results," he
The minister also announced the decision to strengthen
manpower at gram panchayats by appointing a panchayat
development officer and a junior engineer in each panchyats.
"States can follow their own rules for recruitment but
the process should be transparent."
"The consolidated remuneration for PDO and Junior
Engineer will be Rs 12,000 and Rs 10,000 respectively. States
can pay more at their own cost," he said.