Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Sack employment guarantee programme ombudsman, demands Nagpur district collector

NAGPUR: District collector Saurabh Rao has sent a proposal to principal secretary (EGS) to sack Nagpur district Mahatma Gandhi National Rural EGS (MGNREGS) ombudsman NM Lokhande for interfering in government work. Lokhande had sent notices to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, EGS minister Nitin Raut and guardian minister Shivajirao Moghe for issuing statements that amounted to supporting corruption. Earlier, he had alleged that the district administration was not cooperating with him in investigation of EGS scam in which ten officials were suspended.

Lokhande has been at loggerheads with the government right since appointment in March. He had issued statements in media criticizing the officials on several occasions. The notices sent to the three ministers were apparently the last straw.

On July 7, the district administration had organized a programme at Vasantrao Deshpande Hall to extend benefits of various welfare schemes to MGNREGS beneficiaries. Raut and Moghe had addressed the beneficiaries in the programme.

On July 17, Lokhande took suo motu cognizance of the statements and issued a notice to the two ministers. The notice stated that Moghe had slammed the persons who had filed complaints regarding implementation of MGRNEGS. Raut in his speech had supported Moghe, according to the ombudsman. Making such statements in front of members of gram panchayats, panchayat samitis and zilla parishad were violation of section 27(1) of MGNREGS Act and amounted to encouraging corruption.

The notice also stated that an inquiry into the Rs6.50 crore EGS scam was being conducted. Lokhande had also issued a notice to CM asking him to reply within a month whether he supported the stand of the two ministers.

Earlier on July 11, Lokhande had convened a press conference and slammed the district administration officials for not cooperating him in the EGS scam probe in Umred and Bhiwapur talukas. The then district collector Pravin Darade had inquired into the EGS works and had held 22 officials responsible. He had recommended action against ten, who were later suspended. However, no action was proposed against the remaining twelve.

Divisional commissioner BV Gopala Reddy had recently asked the district administration to conduct an inquiry against the twelve officers and submit a report to him. Lokhande had objected to this and said the inquiry was illegal as only the ombudsman had the power to conduct it.


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