| A dilapidated road at Choudhary Bazar gaon panchayat. Telegraph picture |
Nagaon, Feb. 10: Altogether 610 schemes — eight completed, 553 in progress, 35 approved and 14 proposed — is what a look at the MGNREGA fact sheet of Binakandi development block tells. But a visit to the ground level tells a totally different story.
Binakandi, 40km from Nagaon district headquarters under Hojai sub-division, is a minority-dominated area in central Assam, where both the Congress and the AIUDF are equally influential.
“This is the third panchayat election since Tarun Gogoi took charge as chief minister. There is a big similarity in the case of all election campaigning. The Congress and AIUDF leadership make big promises but it does not take them much time to forget their promises. The entire responsibility is entrusted to local party leaders (who work like contractors) who misuse the funds,” alleged Najrul Islam of Choudhary Bazar, a 45-year-old grocery shop owner.
“Before the 2006 panchayat polls, both the Congress and the AIUDF promised a lot. But the dilapidated roads, broken bridges, dirty waterbodies in the surrounding areas show the state the people have got in the name of MGNREGA,” he said.
Bilakandi development block with 21 gaon panchayats is one of the biggest development blocks in Assam. Since 2001, the panchayat area has been in the news for largescale corruption in implementation of development projects.
According to official records, 208 rural roads, 35 flood control schemes, 111 water conservation, eight waterbody reclamation projects, 61 drought protection measures and 18 irrigation schemes have been implemented in different parts of Binakandi.
Choudhary Bazaar panchayat alone has implemented 38 schemes.
“Our panchayat got the maximum funds under the rural job scheme and 53 schemes have been implemented so far with wages provided to job card holders. But this is just an official report, as the funds are siphoned off by bogus card holders,” said Niraj Bordoloi of Bhelouguri.
Villagers allege the panchayat leadership and block officials have created some readymade cardholders and when money against a scheme comes in, most of amount is transferred to those accounts.
“The calculation is very easy. Suppose, Rs 816 is transferred to accounts of 100 such readymade cardholders for 6 mandays of work and for three weeks of work (six days in one), Rs 2,44,800 can be shown as spent money. Such a cardholder has to give Rs 600 to the local leader and they get Rs 216 without work. If the cardholder wants, he can pocket the entire money but in such a situation no money would be transferred to his account thereafter,” Bordoloi said.