Eleven tribals, each from one mandal in the Vizag Agency area, were on an indefinite hunger strike since June 14, alleging misappropriation of Rs. 35 crore of NREGS funding for Project Coffee.

The 11 tribal people, one from each mandal in the Agency area who were on an indefinite hunger strike since June 14 at Paderu alleging misappropriation of funds under NREGS for raising coffee plantation and silver oak trees to a tune of Rs. 35 crore and the tribal beneficiaries were paid much less than what was their due, called off the fast on Monday following an assurance given by the Government.

The CPI (M) and Girijana Sangham also enforced a bandh in the Agency area during the day which ended peacefully. RTC buses were cancelled and government offices remained closed, according to reports reaching here. Additional Joint Collector and Project Director in-charge of ITDA Y. Narasimha Rao held talks with representatives of CPI (M) and Girijan Sangham leaders at the behest of Collector V. Sheshadri. He assured that social audit in all mandals would be completed in three months and criminal cases would be initiated against all the accused.

CPI (M) leaders K. Lokanadham, M. Suryanarayana, Girijana Sangham president Killo Surendra, CPI leader Maruti Rao and YSRC leaders Vanjangi Kantamma and Panduranga Swamy were among those who participated .

Meanwhile in Visakhapatnam Mr. Sheshadri informed reporters that 26 employees including one former and present MPDO were identified for misappropriating the amount. Both the NREGS staff and departmental staff were involved. “Disciplinary action would be taken against the NREGS staff found to be guilty of misappropriation and the Government staff would face both disciplinary action and criminal proceedings”, he said. Commissioner (Rural Development) was asked to speed up the audit. A sum of Rs. 26 lakh which was recovered was being disbursed to the beneficiaries in Pedabayalu mandal. In Dumbriguda mandal the officials concerned were asked to recover the amount and pay it to beneficiaries.

More In: Visakhapatnam