The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has found fraud and bungling by Union textiles minister Smriti Irani in making payments amounting to ₹5.93 crore from her MPLAD funds to a cooperative society of BJP members.
In a joint statement, all India Congress party spokesmen Randeep Singh Surjewala and Shaktisinh Gohil demanded Irani’s prosecution under the prevention of corruption act and her immediate dismissal from the Modi government.
The Congress leaders said the CAG, in its report No. 4 of 2018, has exposed major bungling, fraud and misuse of public funds allocated to Smriti Irani under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development scheme.
The CAG has implicated her for making payment of ₹5.93 crore without inviting tender for the execution of works under the MPLAD scheme. In addition, the CAG report also found fraudulent payment of ₹84.53 lakh to a cooperative society of BJP members for works in a village of Anand district of Gujarat adopted by her.
Smriti Irani was elected as member of Rajya Sabha from Gujarat and selected Anand district as her nodal district for implementation of works under the MPLAD Scheme.
Initially, the MPLAD projects were being executed by Gujarat State Rural Development Co-operation (GSRDCL). Following the termination of the arrangement with the rural development co-operation was closed, the works were awarded to Sharda Majdoor Kamdar Sahkari Mandli, Kheda under instructions from the textiles minister’s secretariat. This was in violation of the MPLAD guidelines which required the district authority to select an appropriate implementing agency.
MPLAD guidelines prohibit members of parliament from selecting the implementing agencies, this being the root cause of corruption.
Sharda Majdoor Mandli was selected without following the prescribed procedure purely on instructions of the minister’s personal assistant.
CAG detected major instances of bungling in execution of works from MPLAD funds by this society. In 2016 the Sharda Majoor Kamdar Mandli claimed ₹45.20 Lakh for the renovation of the same Panchayat building for which amount was granted and released in the preceding year.
The Mandli also claimed payment for several other works in nine villages including construction of protection walls in crematoriums, schools and other buildings. It was found that not a single brick had been laid at any of these places though funds had been disbursed for them.
Payment was made to Shri Sharda Majoor Kamdar Mandali for works of which no records were made available to Gram Panchayat and Nagar Palika.
Even Anand district collector had written a letter on June 20, 2017 to the deputy secretary, general administration department of Gujarat government pointing out the irregularities and fraud being committed under the MPLAD grants received.
CAG in its report No 4 of 2018 has indicted Sharda Majoor Kamdar Mandli for having being awarded 232 works without tender and for making payment worth ₹5.93 Crore including a fraudulent payment of ₹84.53 Lakh.