Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Maharastra EGS fraud: Public audit unearths fraud, stayed

In this story in India together the author talks about how fraud was unearthed using RTI in MEGS. But still the publich hearings were stayed on absurd reasons

Some Excerpts:
"In Satara district, Shivaji Raut, an RTI activist, has uncovered similar corruption and falsification of records using the MRTI law in Poolkoti village (Mann Taluka) and Shirtavo village. In Poolkoti, 19 workers had been shown to have worked under EGS for the Forest department. All the names are bogus, according to Raut's finding. In Shirtavo village there were 66 names on the muster roll, which had thumb impressions of all of them. But 19 people said they were literate and did not put a thumb impression, but signed their names. Raut is also associated with the National Campaign for the People's Right to Information (NCPRI).

It is well known for many years that Maharashtra's Employment Guarantee Scheme is run with great corruption. In fact this was the argument raised during the debate over the National Rural Employment Guarantee Bill, by the bill's opponents. But the NCPRI and the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) have stated that corruption in EGS schemes can be reduced significantly using RTI. And when a large number of beneficiaries participate in an audit by public hearings - as evidenced in Solapur -- corruption would find it difficult to survive. Citizens using the Right to Information law to extract public records can ensure that this.

The stopping of public examination of the muster rolls has been a clear attempt by the state government to thwart honest officials like Manisha Verma. Citizens must come forward and support her efforts. The demand must be that Manisha Verma and other collectors restart the public audits of the EGS muster rolls immediately. "

This shows several things:
1. Such schemes are vulnerable to fraud and wide spread corruption.
2. RTI, public hearings and more involvment of public can help highlight the fraud.
3. Local media can play a very active role in doing this.


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