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Corruption at grassroots

IFP Editorial: Now, as the state government is gearing up to hold elections for various municipalities and other local self-government institutions, allegations of corruption and misappropriations of public funds by both elected and non-elected officials have come up.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 14 Sept 2022, 7:28 pm

(Representational Image: Unsplash)
(Representational Image: Unsplash)

The much touted Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) is one of the flagship welfare programmes started during the Congress regime and continued in the current BJP regime under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The scheme indeed benefitted lakhs of people in rural areas with a guarantee of payment for 100 days’ work, but it also killed the work culture among farmers and agricultural labourers and became a breeding ground for corruption among village and local level representatives. So much for power devolution at the grassroots level.

Now, as the state government is gearing up to hold elections for various municipalities and other local self-government institutions, allegations of corruption and misappropriations of public funds by both elected and non-elected officials have come up.

Two incidents marked the misuse of power at the panchayat level in Toubul and Nambol of Bishnupur district. The first is the revelation of misuse of a total of Rs 1,55,57,563 which has been issued in 2017 for village development in Toubul, Bishnupur district by the local Gram Panchayat. Misappropriation of development funds by the local Pradhan in connivance with block officials seems evident as many of the 28 works were not implemented at all, as alleged by the Toubul RTI group. They also said that the block officials could not provide the list of jobs taken up under MNREGA.

Next comes the case of an Up-Pradhan and a father in-law of a Pradhan of Toubul Gram Panchayatwho is accused of withdrawing a sum of Rs 51, 000, honorarium of 17 months, using a forged signature of Toubul GP ward member in Manipur.Speaking to the mediaToubul GP Ward Number 2 member, Thokchom Jiban, said that Toubul GP, Up-Pradhan Thoudam Gopal and Pradhan's father-in-law, Thokchom Bira Singh, withdrew 17 months’ honorarium of GP members using his signature at the APR.

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He informed that a sum of Rs 3,000 per month is being paid to all the elected ward members as honorarium and added that he has not been getting his honorarium from October 2019 to March 2021. He then went to the office of the BDO, CD Block, Nambol on July 14, 2022 to enquire about his honorarium but was informed by the dealing staff that there is no such long pending of the honorarium.

On checking the report, he found one Actual Payee Receipt (APR) of Rs 51,000, which is the amount of 17-month honorarium, already withdrawn.According to BDO Nambol, the amount had been withdrawn by Up-Pradhan Thoudam Gopal Singh of Toubul GP and Pradhan’s father-in-law, ThokchomBira Singh, ThokchomJiban informed.

The APR was found issued to ThokchomJibol, member of ward number 2 of Toubul GP and the APR was found credited to him.

 The accountant refused to furnish him with a copy of the APR but he took a photograph of the APR in his mobile, Jiban said.

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ThokchomJiban said that the honorarium amount was increased from Rs 1000 to Rs 3000 per month but he was not paid for four months, i.e., January 2018 to April 2018.

There are several reports of gross irregularities in the implementation of MGNREGA works and a deep-rooted conspiracy hatched by Panchayati Raj officials, both elected and unelected, with full knowledge of the ‘gullible’ job card holders to misappropriate huge sums of money. In April last year, there was a lot of hue and cry over non-payment of the money due to them by the Panchayat officials and job card holders, which the Panchayat officials alleged to have been diverted by the state Rural Development and Panchayati Raj department. It is like a sadistic joke played on the general people and public fund.

After a statewide bandh called by the Panchayati Raj employees, the state government relented and released a part of the funds which again failed to cut any ice with the agitators. The government on Thursday released MGNREGA fund of Rs 83 crore for the state Panchayat Parishad functionaries. But the released fund is for only two days’ work wage for job cardholders.

--Editorial

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Tags:

manipur governmentcorruptionMNRREGS

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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