No action has been taken a month since MLA Jignesh Mevani had unearthed a multi-crore MGNREGA scam in Gujarat and an FIR was filed. Last month, the scam came to light after some villagers in Balundra village in Amirgadh tehsil went to seek work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). The villagers were told that their names were already registered under the scheme.
According to Jignesh Mevani, signatures and thumb impressions of the villagers were collected saying that it was so that they could get benefits of different government schemes. Their information was then used to make job cards in their name, open bank accounts, obtain bank passbooks and ATM cards, and siphon off their wages.
According to Mevani, this scam has been going on in Balundra for the last eight to nine years, and some government officials have swindled over 9 to 10 crore rupees. Similar scams were taking place in other villages of Gujarat as well, including in Mevani’s constituency Vadgam.
Later, it was found that five men who had signed on the musters and got their wages were dead, meaning that wages were also being siphoned off under the names of dead people from the village. Analysis of documents also revealed that at least six minors were also registered as workers.
Mevani criticized the lack of action for one month since such a huge scam has been exposed. There is clearly no sense of urgency amongst the police or the revenue department about a scheme that is so essential for rural employment being exploited for the profit of public officials. The inaction suggests that higher-ups must also be receiving some benefit from this scam. Prompt investigation is extremely necessary in such a case so as to not allow time for evidence of the scam to be erased.
The FIR was lodged on August 3 based on a complaint filed by deputy taluka development officer at Amirgadh, Dharmesh Kumar Vyas. Notably, the FIR has been classified under ‘sensitive content’, making it inaccessible to the public. The District Development Officer had said that a police probe and departmental inquiry would take place simultaneously.