Dilip Kumar

Berhampur: A huge amount of funds has allegedly been misappropriated under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in Khallikote block of Ganjam district.

The corruption came to fore after some beneficiaries alleged that money has been withdrawn in their names using fake job cards and bogus bank accounts.

Jhunu Rout, a resident of Badhinuapali in the block alleged that her husband Narasingha has been working outside the State for long. But, he has been shown as a MGNREGA beneficiary and financial transaction has been made in his name.

"He is working outside the State. No bank account has been opened in the name of any of our family members nor we have ever got any work under the scheme," Jhunu alleged.

The bogus financial transaction in the name of her husband came to light after her son checked the transactions online.
"They have withdrawn over 65,000 in the name of my father even though he has never gone to any bank nor submitted any documents for opening of bank accounts," Jajneswar Rout, son of Jhunu said.

This is not the lone case. Several such incidents have been reported from the block. Locals alleged that such irregularities have been continuing for the last three-four years.

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

According to sources, contractors have taken away the job cards from the beneficiaries and opened the bank accounts in their names using the cards. The contractors allegedly pay Rs 100 per card on every transaction.

"We have never worked under the scheme. They (contractors) come to us to take our thumb impression for withdrawal of money and give us only Rs 100. I will not give my finger print anymore," said a complainant.

Locals questioned the transparency of the district administration in the MGNREGA projects being undertaken in the district.

On the other hand, district administration has rubbished the allegations. "No payment has been made without works. We have examined the status of works and geo-tagging before approving funds," Collector Bijay Amruta Kulange said.

(Edited By Ramakanta Biswas)