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Bhubaneswar: Amid the toll of COVID pandemic on employment sector, rural unskilled labourers, who should be the biggest beneficiaries of the MNREGA, are now staring at an uncertain future due to alleged corruption in the National employment scheme of the government.

A special investigative report by OTV has brought widespread irregularities in MNREGA into limelight from Agalpur block of Bolangir district. Despite having job cards, thousands of labourers in the block are sitting idle without any work in hand during COVID pandemic due to corruption.

According to sources, there are more than 800 MNREGA job card holders in Budula Panchayat of the block, but not a single card holder has earned employment for years as works which are awarded for MNREGA workers are now being carried out using machine and tools. In several places, budget estimation boards were also seen making pseudo-claims regarding expenditure on workers.

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Bimanta Naga, a job card holder in Budula Panchayat said, “This card is no use for me. I have not received a single workday in last 14 years. I have been sitting idle in home since the lockdown. All works in this area are being done with help of machines.”

Gariba Naga, another rightful beneficiary who has been reportedly denied employment, said, all public works were done using JCB machines. Contractors were engaged corruptly to embezzle the public money.

Meanwhile, targeting Odisha government over the reports, BJP has come out with documentary evidences to substantiate the allegations. BJP state spokesperson Golak Mohapatra said, “Not only Bolangir, but the entire state is mired with such deep rooted corruption."

“Evidences of embezzlement in Hatadihi (Keonjhar), Tirtol (Jagatsinghpur), Niali (Cuttack), and Khalikote block in Ganjam district  are glare examples of this Neta-Babu-Contractors nexus corruption in MNREGA works in the State," said Mohapatra.

The state BJP has demanded an enquiry to this and requested the state government to hear public petitions to scrutinise corruptions in the grass-root level.

Congress leader Sura Routray has also scathed an attack on government over MNREGA mismanagement saying, “Contractors are making profit by making false bills under the very nose of the government officials."

On the other hand the BJD has refuted the Opposition's claims in a press release. The ruling party claimed that while the incumbent BJP government in the centre has awarded Odisha for its success in implementing the MNREGA, allegations levelled by its State unit party leaders are unwarranted.

(Edited By Surya Kant Jena)

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