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food for thought

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  26 Sep 2015 12:00 AM GMT

How much money the government spends for welfare actually reaches those who need it? Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had once famously commented that ‘of every rupee spent for the poor, barely 15 paise reaches them’. It was a damning indictment of the state of affairs in government schemes, where funds earmarked to improve the lot of the poor are looted outright by a large section of corrupt officials. Sometimes bizarre things happen, as it did recently at a health centre in Nitaigar in Hailakandi district. The joint health director posted in the district noticed that one particular ‘mother’ had delivered as many as 85 babies in that health centre for two years running. When he examined the cheque approval register book, the suspicious official found that this enterprising woman had also forged the mes of other fictitious ‘mothers’ 37 times. In all, for a total 122 non-existent babies shown to be delivered at this centre, the woman took out cheques of Rs 500 under ‘Mamoni’ scheme 122 times, which added up to Rs 60,500. Further investigation revealed that this ‘superturally prolific mother’ was a nurse cum midwife working in that health centre itself. She was promptly suspended, but this is not the first time such a fraud has been perpetrated. Earlier, two nurses at SK Roy civil hospital in the same district had fraudulently shown a young man (!) to have delivered 12 babies in the hospital. Having thereby siphoned off Rs 6,000 under the ‘Mamoni’ scheme, the two nurses were later dismissed from service. Under the ‘Mamoni’ scheme as part of the tiol Health Mission, every childbearing woman is given Rs 500 by the Assam government. This is how government funds are skimmed off in scheme after scheme, be it MGNREGA, IAY or myriad others. The leakage is so widespread and brazen that the former Deputy Chairman of the erstwhile Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia had once commented that 1 per cent fund of every scheme should be earmarked for monitoring and evaluation.

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