Swach Bharat Mission only on papers
Belgaum, Oct 17: Village officials in Karnataka have been minting money out of toilets in the name of Swachch Bharat Mission – Gramin Scheme for the last more than two years.
The scam has at its core the reward money of Rs 12,000 given to people who install Toilets in their homes under the
SBM – Gramin Scheme.
The modus operandi is simple: Houses with already existing toilets are identified. These toilets are photographed and then they are shown as being constructed under the SBM-Gramin Scheme.
The reward money of Rs 12,000, which is awarded to these bogus beneficiaries, is shared between the village officials and the head of the household with the existing old toilet.
A complaint lodged with the Regional Commissioner (Belgaum) on 30.6.2016 revealed the modus operandi of the perpetrators of the scams which must have minted for them crores of rupees of government money.
Ajit Patil, 34, of 1364, Sector 7, Vantmuri Colony, MM Extension, Belgaum-16 had in his complaint sought an investigation into the “misuse of the government funds allocated under the Swacch Bharat Mission – Gramin Scheme.”
Patil alleged that the funds were siphoned off by officials of Rural Development Department including elected members of the gram panchayat.
He named two officials – Panchayat PDO D R Chougale and (Panchayat) President Shivaji Ramappa Kuri – and sought action to be taken against them after a thorough probe.
He wrote that he was ready to present himself before the Regional Commissioner. For proof he sent a set of 30 random applications with photographs of people who already had a latrine in their homes.
Patil alleged that the photographs of the toilets attached with the applications were those of existing toilets shown as constructed under the SBM Gramin scheme and the reward money collected.
From the applications, it appears elected members and other officials of the Rural Development Department (RDD) were in a hurry to claim the SBM Gramin reward of Rs 12,000 each for toilets already existing in homes.
Sources said Village Level Workers (VLW) and Gram Rozgar Sewaks (GRS) were “minting money” and sharing it between themselves. A part of the reward money was allegedly given to the head of the family whose existing toilet was photographed and attached with the application for a SBM Gramin toilet.
Random sample data downloaded from the government websites revealed that already existing toilets were photographed by officials of the Rural Development Department (RDD) over a period of two years. On paper, the toilets were shown to have been constructed under SBM Gramin .
The Regional Commissioner, Belgaum, is said to have forwarded Patil’s complaint to the Zilla Panchayat to investigate and take action. However, even after a year nothing has changed. Neither was an investigation ordered nor any other action taken.
In fact, attempts were made to tamper and modify data on the online government portal. Fortunately, hard copies downloaded from the website exist with the originally uploaded data.
“Documents obtained from http:// panchamitra.kar.nic.in website reveals the nature of misuse. Attached are the prints of 30 such applications which show that same pictures were used to approve the grants for many applications,” Patil wrote in his missive to the Regional Commissioner.
“One must take note of the date of events like pre-verification status and final verification status of all the 30 random applications, not even a single application appears to be valid,” Patil said.
He alleged that while money had already been disbursed to some of the “bogus beneficiaries”, other applications were awaiting NEFT/RGTS. This was more than a year ago.