JAMMU, Jan 31: The opposition National Conference members today clashed with the ruling PDP members and lodged strong protest over the fraud worth over Rs 2.50 crore of NREGA payments in district Kishtwar and non-release of payments worth crores in favour of workers and later staged walk-out from the Upper House as their demand to set up House Committee was turned down by the Chairman.
The issue was raised by the National Conference member, Sajjad Ahmed Kichloo with regard to the works identified and executed under NREGA by the RDD during the last two years and total allocations and funds utilized in district Kishtwar under NREGA. While the Minister contested that all the liabilities under NREGA have been cleared, the NC member claimed that Minister was telling lies and still many payments of the poor workers were pending in the Chenab region.
Alleging massive irregularities and bungling in the Rural Development Department , Sajjad Kichloo referred to a case in which an FIR on 26-12 -2016 against a BDO in Kishtwar was lodged, who fraudulently had withdrawn an amount worth Rs 2.50 crore meant for NREGA works in the district. He said this amount has gone into the account No. 13964 of the RDD officer. He said the RDD Minister and this Government beats drums of honesty and transparency and now they should tell for which this amount was withdrawn and put in the personal account of an RDD officer.
Minister of State for Transport (Independent charge) Sunil Sharma was speaking on behalf of Rural Development Minister. He claimed that during 2014-2015, 4587 works were identified in Kishtwar district and same number of works were executed. Again during 6508 works were identified during 2015-16 and same number of works were executed and during 2016-17, 5115 works were identified and executed as well. He also gave the detail of block wise works during the period. He further stated that during 2016-17 funds to the tune of Rs 95.20 crore were allocated and during 2015-16 funds worth Rs 7636 crore.
Kichloo and other NC members got irked when the minister replied that FIR was lodged only when PDP-BJP Government is here in power. If there had been previous Government, there would have no mention even if Rs 250 crore had gone down the drain. PDP member Surinder Choudhary, Yasir Reshi and Saifuddin Bhat stood up and raised allegations against the members of opposition. Both sides had verbal spat for some time. The NC members pressed for setting up of House Committee on the issue and Congress members Jugal Kishore, Ghulam Nabi Monga and Naresh Gupta also supported framing of House committee.
The Minister amidst noisy scenes assured the House that he would order a probe by Departmental Committee and if any body was found guilty, action would be taken against him. He said lodging an FIR does not mean that officer is accused. It is part of procedure. Let the investigations take place. The truth will come out.
Sajjad Kichloo said that he was not satisfied with the response of the Minister and moreover, Chairman should announce a House Committee. He also alleged manipulation in the lists of SC/ST members and alleged favouritism. Though PDP member Surinder Chaudhary also raised allegation of irregularities in three Panchayats of Nowshera, yet he did not support House Committee.
Upon this, the Minister clarified the doubts of Kichloo on ST/SCs and maintained that this quota has been fixed by the Central Government and they only forward the same. No such lists are prepared at the local level. The members, however, contested and stated that Minister’s reply was far from the truth and the reality was some thing else. The NC Members including Kichloo, Showkat Ganai, Qaiser Lone, Ali Mohd Dar and Master Noor Hussain then lodged strong protest and staged walkout from the House after brief clash with the PDP members.