Centre to order CBI probe in MNREGA fund embezzlement, SC told

Based on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in 2005, the scheme provides for legally-guaranteed 100 days of employment to at least one member of each rural household.

Last Updated: Apr 11, 2011, 15:12 PM IST

New Delhi: The government on Monday informed the Supreme Court that it has decided to order a CBI probe into embezzlement of funds meant for implementation of the rural
job guarantee scheme in Orissa and would soon issue a notification for it.

The government gave this information to a bench of Chief Justice SH Kapadia saying it would issue the notification very shortly.

"The government has taken a decision that CBI can investigate it (embezzlement of MNREGA funds) and notification has to be issued on it," said Additional Solicitor General
Indira Jaising.

During the last hearing, the court had asked Orissa government to explain as to why it had not implemented the guidelines issued by the Centre for implementation of MNREGA.

The bench had also expressed its displeasure over misappropriation of funds meant for UPA`s flagship programme Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
(MNREGA) in Orissa.

The apex court, on March 14, had asked the Centre to sdecide for a CBI probe into the matter within four weeks.

The bench had said that reports from the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) and National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD) showed that there was misappropriation of funds to the tune of 88 percent in some districts of Orissa.

"Reports of CAG as well as of NIRD show appropriation of funds allegedly by officials and functionaries of the implementation agencies, resulting in diversion of funds of
honest tax payers of the nation," the apex court had said, adding that such "leakage of funds" has deprived the "beneficiaries from payment of their dues".

The court`s directions came after Prashant Bhushan, counsel appearing for NGO Centre for Environment and Food Security, submitted that as per the reports, there was misappropriation of funds between 53 percent to 88 percent in district of Kalahandi, Keonjhar, Naurangpur, Bolangir, Raygada, Malakagiri and Koraput.

The bench had also asked senior advocate KK Venugopal, who represented the Orissa government, the reasons why it had not implemented the guidelines issues by the Centre for MNREGA.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed in 2007 by the Centre for Environment and Food Security, alleging large-scale corruption in the implementation of the
programme for rural job under the scheme.

Based on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in 2005, the scheme provides for legally-guaranteed 100 days of employment to at least one member of each rural household.

PTI