NREGA fraud: Rs 29 lakh spent for road, yet patients taken to hospitals in doli

Visakhapatnam: The hilltop villages continue to face hardships despite huge spend of money for roads and other civic facilities under the MGNREGA schemes.

For one, despite funds release, there is no road worth the name. Tribals have to take their family members in emergency situations to hospitals many kilometres away by 'Doli', day or night.

Marri Kavya (21) of Jajulu Bandha, a hilltop village in Moolpet Panchayat, Koyyur mandal, Alluri Sitaramaraju district, has been ill for the past week. On Wednesday morning, her family members called for an ambulance, but there was no response.

The young woman was suffering from extreme fatigue and stomach pain. When the medical officer was called, she could not do much. The family of Kavya's husband, Kamesh, made a Doli for her six-km journey to a hospital.

Kavya on the Doli reached Arla village in Rolugunta mandal of Anakapalli district and was later admitted to the Buchimpeta Primary Medical Centre.

The Jajulu Bandha hilltop village comprises 29 families of 140 inhabitants.

When Deccan Chronicle sought an explanation from medical officer Dr M Lalitha, she said, "We can only bring patients from Arla village to the hospital. There is no road for six kilometres. So the patient had to travel in a ‘Doli’.”

“We, instead, send ANM and ASHA workers, who walk with patients. We are struggling to provide medical services due to lack of roads," she said.

In 2021, the villagers of Jajula Bandha, Pitri Gadda and Neella Bandha collectively contributed `7 lakh to build a road from Arla to Jajula Bandha village. However, this mud road was washed away by heavy rains, making it impossible for autos and bikes to service the area.

In 2023-24, a budget of `70 lakh was allocated under MGNREGA for constructing a 9-km gravel road from Arla village to Kumburla village, through Jajula Bandha village. The road construction work, initiated by the tribal community, continued for 28 days and bills of `29 lakh were generated. Despite this, the roads are still not ready for plying of autos and other vehicles.

"Is it fair to collect bills for an unconstructed road? Even today, we have to walk 6km to Arla village. Then we travelled about 20km by auto to cast our votes." Kamesh's words echo the kind of fraud in the execution of such civic works.

The FTO report states that on May 2, a sum of `29 lakh was billed to contractor Paila Naga Venkataramana's account. The work ID number of these bills is 0203101403/RC/999905210604/GSB/including/CD/.

The local inhabitants demand that the government conduct a thorough investigation into the funds fraud and the MGNREGA project director immediately start the road works.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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