CBI begins probe into MGNREGA scam in Orissa

Bhubaneswar: Separate CBI teams from New Delhi arrived in Orissa on Tuesday and began probing into the alleged large-scale corruption in implementation of the rural job scheme under MGNREGA, official sources said on Tuesday.

The officials of the premier investigating agency have already reached the districts of Rayagada, Kalahandi and Koraput, an official said adding they have met district level officials before verifying documents relating to MGNREGA.

"The state government has appointed nodal officers in six different districts to cooperate the CBI teams in the investigation," Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said.

A CBI team arrived here this morning. "We have been helping them in beginning probe," said Rayagada district collector NB Jawle.

The state government had already provided logistic support like police officers, nodal officers in each probe districts and vehicles to the CBI teams as desired by the investigating agency, said chief secretary BK Patnaik.

The CBI on May 12 was directed by the Supreme Court to probe into the alleged corruption in the rural job scheme. The court gave this direction while disposing a PIL filed by a Delhi-based NGO which alleged that about Rs 500 crore scam in implementation of MGNREGA in the state.

The CBI teams comprised officials of the investigating agency's state branch, Orissa police and some state government officials. The teams, on the first phase, would probe alleged corruption in Kalahandi, Koraput and Rayagada districts, part of the poverty stricken KBK region, officials said.

The team was scheduled to take up cases in three other districts in the second phase. The Centre for Environment and Food Security (CEFS), the NGO, had alleged large-scale corruption in 100 villages of the six districts in the state.

Besides meeting block level officials and verifying documents there, the CBI team is likely to directly interact with the beneficiaries, they said.

The CBI has been directed to submit its preliminary investigation within six months.

The investigating agency was directed to take into consideration of three documents - survey report of CEFS, the report of CAG and findings of Hyderabad based NIRD (national institute of rural development).