An FIR has been registered against four panchayat officials in Gujarat’s Amreli district for allegedly diverting Rs 3.30 crore meant for beneficiaries of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme, police said on Wednesday.
The accused conspired to divert the money between financial years 2015 and 2019, as per the FIR lodged on Tuesday at Jafrabad police station on the basis of a complaint by an officer of the Jafrabad taluka panchayat office, which looks after the MGNREGA scheme.
The scheme guarantees 100 days of employment to the beneficiaries in rural areas.
The accused served on posts like assistant programme officer/head of the MNREGA scheme for the Jafrabad taluka panchayat office, accounts assistant, Management Information System (MIS) coordinator and technical assistant.
According to the FIR, the four accused — identified as Shaktisinh Jadeja, Vimal Basan, Jignesh Vadiya and Ashwin Shiyal — allegedly forged duplicate job cards in the name of beneficiaries in different villages of the taluka and opened bank accounts in the names of people other than the job card owners.
They allegedly misused the ID and password of the Amreli district rural development agency to divert Rs 3.30 crore from the government exchequer, the FIR said.
An internal audit conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on December 7, 2021 revealed a third party payment was made for more than Rs 4 crore of wages under the scheme.
A probe committee was formed by the taluka development officer on September 22, 2022 which revealed in its December 1 report that a third party payment was made for a total Rs 3,30,26,548, as per the FIR.
The case was registered against the accused under various Indian Penal Code sections pertaining to cheating, criminal breach of trust by a public servant, forgery and criminal conspiracy.
An MIS coordinator is responsible for the online registration of job cards.
A beneficiary gets work sanctioned by the village panchayat within a periphery of five kilometres. The project is geo-tagged from the district level office.