TIRUNELVELI: Absence of consistent public auditing of the works done under the National Rural Employment Guarentee programme (NREGP) resulted in large scale corruption, complained an RTI activist and farmer, Seetharaman.
Through an RTI query, he has brought to light how the officials of the local administration in the Appaneri panchayat in Kovilpatti taluk have allegedly swindled several lakh rupees in the name of annual maintenance of a “non-existent” water body for the last five years.
Answering an application of farmer Seetharaman under RTI on the implementation of NREGP, the Appaneri panchayat officials has said that “Rudhrappanayakkar oorani”-an imaginary public water body in the village has been desilted.
However stunned over the answer about desilting a non-existent water body, Seetharaman again filed a petition under RTI, seeking further details about the water body mentioned by the officials. Answering his RTI application the officials of the Kuruvikulam Panchayat union, within which the Appaneri panchayat falls, maintained the false information they gave earlier and added,” the water body exists in the survey number 146.”
The unflinching farmer however filed another application under RTI seeking further details about the “imaginary pond”.
The Kuruvikulam Panchayat union officials, however, did not hesitate to further build up their story and stated that the “non-existent” water body is located by the western side of the road between Appaneri and Chithirampatti villages.
The undaunted panchayat union officials, to further establish their original lie too added that the “non-existent” pond extended for 13 acres and it was desilted in 314 man days under the National Rural Employment Guarantee programme (NREGP), for which a wage to the tune of Rs 53,649 was disbursed.
But the RTI petitioner detected a discrepancy in the survey number and
forwarded his fourth application to the Kovilpatti Tahisildar, who, however, in his reply said that no such pond ever existed at Appaneri panchayat.
The farmer is determined to follow this up with a demand for a full-fledged enquiry....