Questioning claims of the government on Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gaurentee Scheme (MGNREGA) the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Thursday called for a thorough inquiry into the implementation of this flagship scheme which has ‘turned into a big scam in J&K’.
Responding to the claims of minister for rural development on the achievements of the government in implementing this important programme, PDP Chief Spokesperson Naeem Akhtar said the government claims are completely baseless and the figures quoted by the minister are misleading. In a statement he said the huge funds received from Government of India during last four years have been grossly misutilised even as a greater portion of them is still lying with the government because of its inability to spend properly.
Quoting figures from Ministry of Rural Development Government of India Akhtar said that till December last the government of India had released a whopping Rs 1700 crores for implementation of the programme since 2009-10. “Out of this only around 800 crores have been spent which amounts to less than 50% of the funds received from government of India during the four years of present government. He said Jammu & Kashmir has been one of the worst performers among all the states in the country,” Akhtar said.
Akhtar said the present government had politicized the implementation of MGNREGA and as a result it’s very basic objective of transforming rural life through employment and development had been subverted. “The state has failed to benefit from it while most other states have transformed the rural scene with sincere implementation of this scheme,” Nayeem alleged.
He said instead of providing jobs to the deserving the present government has established a new class of rural exploiters who belong to the ruling parties and work as commission agents. These agents, he said instead of employing labourers mostly use machines to execute works and make money without sharing the benefits of the scheme with those for whom it was devised.
The PDP spokesperson said the government of India should take a note of the gross violation of the guidelines. Some time back, he said, a team from Ministry of Rural development government, of India was deputed to Budgam to look into the reported bunglings committed by the department in selection of IAY beneficiaries and execution of works under MNREGA. It has now been reported, he said that the funding to Budgam district under MGNREGA has been stopped by the ministry. He said the government must come clean on this and release the report of the government of India team on the subject.
Referring to the orders of the government of India issued in Sept 2009 for establishment of the office of the Ombudsman in all the districts for redressal of grievances, Akhtar said the state government had failed to constitute this important authority. He said the state government has hesitated from appointing the Ombudsman in the districts in order to escape scrutiny and cover up the huge frauds carried out by it in siphoning off the public money. He said hardly any social audits have ever been under taken under the provisions of MNREGA and as a result lists of fake beneficiaries have been prepared to cover up the scam.
Akhtar said the funds under MNREGA were reportedly utilized for organizing public meetings for the chief minister, minister for rural development and other government politicians. He said the government must explain the source of funding of the recently held Maha Panchayat Conference which was held in Srinagar to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the coalition government. He said the PDP has reports that the expenditure was booked against the funds provided under MNREGA violating the guidelines for the scheme. He said huge amounts have also been paid reportedly to favourites of the government under one pretext or the other from the contingency provision under this scheme. The government must come out with details to address the public anxiety, Akhtar added.