If Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) chief Nandan Nilekani needs another argument in favour of his 'Aadhar' scheme, here is a clincher – a Gujarat village paan-seller who recently discovered the pleasures of Google has stumbled upon a NREGS scam involving fake identities, used to siphon off almost Rs1 crore.
The motley bunch of "beneficiaries" under whose names the money was withdrawn include affluent NRIs, doctors, government officials, teachers and well-off farmers - all shown as unemployed village labourers holding NREGS job cards, according to a report in The Indian Express report. The NREG Scheme is meant to provide work for the unemployed poor.
The scam came to light at Kotda village in Kutiyana taluka of Porbandar district after Aslam Khokhar (37), a Class X dropout and a paan shop owner, learnt how to use computers and searched NREGS on Google. "I was thrilled to find every detail of NREGS work in our area on the website. But I then came across the job card of a friend, who is a government employee.
"I searched and found there are doctors, teachers and others I personally know in the village, listed as 'labourers' on the site," Khokar, told the paper.
Veja Modedara, an independent councillor at Kutiyana taluka panchayat, and Congress worker Bhanukant Odedara soon joined hands with Khokhar. The trio conducted door-to-door meetings with villagers named in the website and found they had neither worked on any NREGS site nor received any wages.
Several like Bharat Ganga (23), who has been to Muscat for the past three years, were shocked to learn that they were named as NREGS employees on record and have been even paid for their work. "How can this be? I moved out of India three years ago," Ganga told The Indian Express.