Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Massive amount of funds have allegedly been misappropriated under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) at Bania Panchayat under Khallikote block in Ganjam district.

The alleged corruption came to the fore after some villagers complained that funds worth lakhs of rupees have been embezzled on the pretext of renovation of the existing ponds in the Panhayat.  But in reality very little work has been done to make the ponds usable again.

According to the villagers, it has been mentioned in the information board that the renovation of Kandara Bandha pond has been done in 2020-21 with an estimate of Rs 10,000,00. But currently the pond is full of weeds and not in usable condition. Someone has also broken the information board recently to keep the villagers in dark about the massive corruption.

“Some agents of the local administration are threatening to take away our ration cards and job cards if we complain about the corruption under MGNREGA scheme in our Panchayat,” alleged a villager.

The status of another pond at the end of the village is also no different. Though work has been undertaken under MGNREGA for the renovation of the pond, nothing has improved, villagers alleged. 

“The concrete wall around the pond has developed cracks due to poor quality of work. Instead of engaging labourers, the contractors are using JCBs and other machines to carry out works which is not serving the purpose of the scheme,” said another villager.

Some beneficiaries also alleged that money has been withdrawn in their names using fake job cards and bogus bank accounts. They alleged that such irregularities have been continuing in the Panchayat since a long time.

"No works under the MGNREGA have taken place anywhere in the Panhayat. But, some contractors have kept on withdrawing money in the name of the beneficiaries. We found financial transaction has taken place under the scheme even without any work," alleged a local resident.

On the other hand, the block administration rubbished the allegations.

“We have received some complaints about irregularities in MGNREGA projects in the block. We will launch a field inquiry soon. If any irregularities are found, we will certainly take action against the concerned contractors,” said Khallikote BDO Mitali Patra.