Rs 35 lakh didn't repair this road...

Our report did

pratap

Pratap Vikram Singh | November 4, 2011




The Governance Now report on irregularities in the Mahatma Gandhi national rural employment guarantee scheme (MNREGS) in Uttar Pradesh first led rural development minister Jairam Ramesh to fire a salvo at chief minister Mayawati (Read the story here). Now, our report has force the Sonbhadra district administration to take corrective measures.

An earthen road built under the scheme in Kusi village of Robertsganj block of the district, is being reconstructed and local officers say it will be completed in two weeks. Also, orders have been issued to fix a crack found in a check dam in Dudhi block.

“In our investigation, we have found the road in a bad condition. One of the check dams in Dudhi block too has been found to have a crack,” Sonbhadra district magistrate Vijay Vishwas Pant told Governance Now.

According to the district administration, in Robertsganj block, 140 works have been sanctioned in the past six years. “We scrutinised through every file of the past six years, sifted all the vouchers, muster rolls and check registers. The work site was visited by an inspection team, which found that 31 percent of the soling work done on the road was of substandard quality,” a senior district official said on condition of anonymity.

In Dudhi area, files of 204 works that were taken up in the past were vetted by the administration.. 

The quick action comes after a series of ground reports on the large scale embezzlement in MNREGS in Uttar Pradesh, published in the October 16-30 issue of Governance Now. Taking note of the reports, Anurag Yadav, additional commissioner, MNREGA cell, government of Uttar Pradesh, asked the district administration on October 20 to ascertain the facts into the matter.

The district magistrate then ordered an enquiry into the construction done under the two blocks – Robertsganj and Dudhi – as mentioned in the report. The enquiry report was eventually submitted to the state headquarters on Tuesday.

In one ground report, I reported that an earthen road of 4.5 kms was reconstructed at a cost of Rs 35.30 lakh (see photo). In spite of the astronomical price tag, the reconstruction only worsened the condition of the road. Villagers told me that it was the worse condition of the road that they had seen in their lifetime. Plying vehicles on it was out of question, but even walking on it was difficult.

Failing to get their repeated requests entertained at the block office, the villagers themselves took up work for a patch of the road and reconstructed it themselves, through contributing their money and labour.

Presently, the work has been started on the village road. “The road construction is being done at a very quick speed, we have never seen work happening this way in our village and villages around. We have heard that the work is being funded by the MLC development fund and it will be completed in 15 days,” a resident of Kusi told me over phone, requesting anonymity.

Asked about the practice of social audit in the MNREGS in the district, a senior district official said it was being taken seriously and the audit was yielding results.

Recently, a social audit was conducted in Phulwariya, a village under Dudhi area. It was done in the presence of the project director, MNREGS district cell. Payment of Rs 1.5 lakh was done in the form of wages to labourers who never showed up to the work site. Subsequently, a gram vikas adhikari was suspended. And first information reports have been filed against the corrupt labourers.

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