A social audit report on the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in the Nooliyode ward of the Vilappil panchayat has alleged rampant corruption and irregularities.

The model social audit, the first in the State, was held in the ward from February 25 to 28. The State Social Audit Cell recently submitted the report to the State government.

The highlight of the report is the alleged large-scale manipulation by project officials at every stage, right from preparation of estimates to payment of wages. Almost all officials have been accused of committing irregularities.

The report says the accredited engineer grossly manipulated measurements and rates to prepare inflated estimates for works. The estimates were not based on site inspection but made by exaggerating the measurement and rates to tally with a pre-fixed amount. The audit team found staggering differences in recorded figures when the measurement for one work was re-checked in the presence of the engineer.

“Under the social audit, the measurements of one work and files of 52 works only were verified. If all 512 works undertaken under the MGNREGS in the panchayat are audited, the irregularities found could be of much larger extent,” the report says.

The report says “mates” (workers given supervisory charge on sites) were involved in manipulation of muster rolls. The “mates” have been accused of faking signatures of labourers and tampering with the muster rolls. As many as 4,150 cases of fake attendance were found when muster rolls for 14 works were verified and 582 entries were found to have been “corrected” using whitener and razor blades. This amounted to misappropriation of around Rs.5.18 lakh. Instead of paying the rent of tools directly to the workers, the “mates” were made the payment. An amount of Rs.3.95 lakh was found to be disbursed to the “mates” between April 3, 2009 and March 19, 2010.

The report alleges serious violation of the rights of workers. While the panchayat failed to provide work on demand, a large number of fake work demands were generated. The report has recommended that the government immediately remove the corrupt officials and launch a Vigilance inquiry. The officials should be held accountable and made to pay for the financial loss. An amount of Rs.6.05 lakh is to be recovered from the accredited engineer alone.