Huge amount siphoned off from panchayat samiti by false bills

Koraput: A recent vigilance investigation in tribal-dominated Koraput district shows a huge amount was simphoned off by officials by preparing false bills even though the project does not exist.

Official documents examined in Nandapur block showed work orders were issued by Nandapur panchayat samiti for construction of a 90-metre guard wall on either side of a road between Thuba and Porotta with fuds sourced from Pottangi MLA's local area development fund in 2011-12. The project cost was estimated at Rs 5 lakh, official sources said.

While the district planning and monitoring unit cleared the project proposal in November, 2011, the work was tatrgeted to be completed on December 3 same year. Based on official recommendation of Pottangi MLA, block development officer of Nandapur issued the work order for the project.

Though official documents showed the work has been completed and the final bill prepared in April, 2012, vigilance inquiry found no such project existing in the panchayat, they said.

"During investigation it was found that no guard wall was constructed at the spot. The officials concerened of the block prepared false bills and misappropriated the entire funds meant for the project," said DSP (vigilance) Mayadhar Swain, the investigating officer of the case.

He said laboureers, whose names appear in the muster roll, never worked in the project and thumb impressions of labourers in the muster roll are also fake.

"We have seized the documents but the junior engineer concerned is absconding. Cases will be registered against the junior engineer, assistant engineer and the contractor. Our investigation i son and we expect to wrap it up in the next two weeks," the DSP said.

When contacted, Pottangi MLA Rama Chandra Kadam said, "If funds have not been used for the project for which it was sanctioned and false bills have been prepared then action should be taken against the guilty after due investigation."

Official sources said this is just the tip of the iceberg. Such corrupt practices are rampant in backward KBK districts.