(1.) The petitioner, by means of this writ petition, seeks direction to the opposite parties to release payment to the job card holders under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) on completion of the excavation work of a pond as per the "Mo Pokhari" scheme of the Government of Odisha, within a stipulated period.
(2.) The factual matrix of the case, in hand, is that the project "Mo Pokhari" is governed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (in short "MGNREGA"). The Act provides a detailed procedure to be followed for execution of a project. Under the Scheme "Mo Pokhari" initiations are taken at the Block Level and in consultation with the local Sarapanchs different lands are selected for excavation of pond with an intention to develop irrigation facilities in the concerned village. Such work has to be executed by the people of the village, who are job card holders under the NREGS. Under the said scheme and after necessary verification, a piece of vacant land of the petitioner pertaining to Khata No. 104, Plot No. 1457 measuring Ac.0.24 dec. was selected for excavation of a pond. Accordingly, the work order was issued in favour of the petitioner on 04.04.2010 by opposite party no.5, the Sarapanch, Mahakalapada Gram Panchayat. As per the said work order, the estimated cost of the project was Rs.50,000/- and the project work was to be started within three days from the date of issuance of work order, which was stipulated to be completed before 14.06.2010.
2.1 For execution of the work in question, eleven job card holders were engaged, after obtaining technical and financial sanction, which was made online on 15.05.2010. Relevant muster roll was signed by the labourers through the VLW. Although the funds were available, but the labourers, who were engaged on a condition of weekly wage payments, did not get their dues from the Gram Panchayat. The work was completed within the stipulated period, i.e. by 14.06.2010 in accordance with the approved technical and financial sanction, as well as the estimation made by the opposite parties. After completion the work was required to be measured by the Junior Engineer and again check measured by the Asst. Engineer of Bari Block and the labourers were to get wages during the period of work, but in the instant case the wages were not disbursed even after completion of two years. Subsequently, it was brought to the notice of the petitioner that a part bill amounting to Rs.27,000/- was released vide check no. 370391 dated 25.03.2010 and the same was deposited in Kalinga Gramya Bank, Kampagarh branch for disbursal in favour of the job card holders. Though the said amount was withdrawn from the bank, but payment was not made to the job card holders. Although such fact was brought to the notice of opposite parties no. 2, 3 and 4, but no steps were taken to investigate into the allegations and to release the payment against the said work order.
2.2 In order to make sure, the petitioner submitted an application under the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005. In response thereto, the Public Information Officer, Bari Block on 16.04.2012 furnished information to the effect that no muster roll relating to excavation of pond is available, and that only work order is available, but there is no order showing disbursement of payments. The vigilance has seized the relevant NREGS cash book. Only a xerox copy of cash book is kept in the office of Grama Panchayat which indicates that a sum of Rs.27,000/- has been spent vide cheque no. 370391 dated 25.07.2010 against the said work order. To ascertain the result of his complaint, the petitioner sought for information under the Right to Information Act, 2005. Accordingly, the opposite party no.3, vide office order no. 5407 dated 17.12.2012, provided the information enclosing enquiry report on the allegation of the petitioner, which revealed that no muster roll was issue by the Programme Officer and the work was not measured and the said Rs.27,000/- was misappropriated by the Ex-VLW, Ex- Sarapanch and GRS. The report further revealed that EX-B.D.O, Bari and vigilance officer of Jajpur district also made enquiry and found misappropriation to the tune of Rs.4,06,536/-. Accordingly, the concerned BDO was instructed to recover an amount of Rs.4,33,536/- from the erring officials and recommendations were made to initiate departmental proceeding against them. Eleven muster roll was kept with the VLW for the said work, but due to misappropriation of amount in respect of execution of the work in question under the NREGS in Bari Block, the petitioner has been deprived of getting the legitimate dues. Hence this application.
(3.) Mr. S.R. Mohapatra, learned counsel for the petitioner contended that due to negligence on the part of the opposite parties, the petitioner has been deprived of his legitimate claim of Rs.50,000/- as per the work order issued in Annexure-1 under the scheme of "Mo Pokhari" for engagement of job contract card holders to excavate the pond. It is further contended that due to inactiveness of the opposite parties, circumstances were created to frustrate the objectives behind enactment of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, which provides guaranteed employment to rural poor to earn their livelihood, thereby, he seeks interference of this Court for giving direction to pay the dues to the job card holders as per the work order issued in Annexure-1.;