New Delhi: Voicing concern over alleged misappropriation of funds meant for rural job guarantee scheme (MNREGA) in Orissa, the Supreme Court on Monday has asked the Centre to expeditiously decide on a CBI probe into the matter.

A bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia said that the court will only step in if the Centre fails to take a decision within four weeks.

"We have been informed by Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising that the government is considering to approach the CBI for conducting the probe. For that purpose, we are giving four weeks time to the Centre.

The bench said the reports show that there is a massive misappropriation of funds in some districts of the state. "Reports of CAG as well as of National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD), shows misappropriation of funds by officials and functionaries of the implementing agencies, resulting in diversion of funds of tax payers of the country."

The court issued the directions, while hearing a public interest lawsuit filed in 2007 by an NGO, Centre for Environment and Food Security. The NGO had alleged large-scale corruption in the implementation of the programme for rural job under MNREGA.

Based on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in 2005, the scheme provides for 100 days of employment to at least one member of each rural household. The apex court on December 16 had indicted both the Union and the state governments for their failure in properly executing the rural job guarantee scheme and had asked them to explain as to why a CBI probe into the fund embezzlement should not be ordered.

Seeking their response on ordering a CBI probe, it said, "We call upon both the Union of India and the State Government to show cause as to why there should not be a direction to the CBI to investigate this matter in accordance with law."

But the government apparently had done little to address the court's concern in last three month.

(Agencies)