'Deepika Padukone', 'Jacqueline Fernandes' on NREGA job cards in MP

KHARGONE: Bollywood stars Deepika Padukone and Jacqueline Fernandes, in Madhya Pradesh government’s record books, are working on MGNREGA wages in Khargone district. They have even withdrawn pay for June and July.

Photographs of these actors have been found on family job cards, uploaded online under MGNREGA beneficiaries, of at least 11 people in the remote Peeparkheda Naka village in Jhirnia panchayat, about 170km from Indore. Job cards of men, too, carry photos of Deepika and Jacqueline.

Khargone collector Anugraha P told TOI that the zilla panchayat CEO has been asked to investigate this immediately. “The job cards will be checked and necessary action taken,” she said.

Some villagers were surprised to find the job card pictures on the internet. Amusement turned to alarm as they realised wages had been drawn against these cards. “I was surprised to find Deepika Padukone’s photograph on my family job card uploaded online,” villager Sunil Singh said.

Monu alias Manoj Shivshankar, whose job card also has Deepika’s photo, said, “I have never gone for labour work. Someone played mischief and swindled money.”

Jacqueline’s photograph was found pasted against online job cards issued to families of Padam and Umrao, both of whom have hard copies of their original job cards with their own photographs and use them to get work under MGNREGA.

Khargone zilla panchayat CEO Gaurav Benal told TOI that a team has been sent to Peeparkheda Naka to probe the matter. “As of now, information has been received about 11 job cards on the portal with photographs of Bollywood actresses. The beneficiaries were shown as working in construction of ponds and canal repair under job activities of MGNREGA. Some amount has also been withdrawn in June and July,” he said.

The panchayat secretary, employment assistant and sarpanch are responsible for job card creation and maintenance, said Benal.

Jhirnia janpad panchayat CEO Mahendra Kumar Srivastava said the beneficiaries have given statements on Friday that they have received wages. Asked how the online cards carry photographs of actresses, he said, “It will be clear after investigation.”