In letter to CM, he stresses need for CBI probe
Accusing the Mayawati government of directly abetting in embezzlement of funds meant for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the Centre intends holding a CBI inquiry into the fraud ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
In a letter to the Chief Minister, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh maintained that criminal conspiracies in four districts were as scandalous as was the case of the National Rural Health Mission which the CBI was probing. (A massive scam was reported in the NRMS and two medical officers were killed.)
“The signal that has gone out by the State government's continuing inaction is clear — make money openly, flout all rules and procedures openly and nothing will happen to you if you have the patronage of the ruling establishment in the State,” Mr. Ramesh charged.
Expressing his anguish, Mr. Ramesh told Ms. Mayawati that the implementation of the MGNREGS was far from satisfactory. “Many serious and, in fact, brazen violations and cases of deliberate embezzlement of funds have come to the notice” of the Ministry from time to time,
The State ignored taking action on 22 reports of the National Level Monitors (NLMs) which highlighted grave irregularities, Mr. Ramesh said. The State Quality Monitor's report on the districts of Sonbhadra, Mirzapur, Kushinagar and Sant Kabeernagar was also swept under the carpet.
Mr. Ramesh regretted that no action had been taken to probe the disproportionate assets or criminal liabilities of officials though some of them seemed to have been placed under suspension. He underlined that more than Rs. 5,000 crore had been earmarked as the labour budget for the current financial year towards wage payments in the State.
While pointing out that the Centre could not keep silent on the loss of its money, Mr. Ramesh said he would not stop release of funds as doing so would only harm the poor for the crimes committed by officials at various levels and their political patrons.
Favours CBI probe
As an alternative, he was in favour of having the fraud investigated by the CBI. He hoped that the State government would give its concurrence, if it had “nothing to hide and had a clear conscience,” to get the irregularities that hit the scheme in Balrampur, Gonda, Mahoba, Sonbhadra, Sant Kabeernagar, Mirzapur, and Kushinagar districts brought to light.