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State to hire 13 job scheme monitors

Ranchi, March 24: The state rural development department’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) cell will appoint 13 ombudsmen to act as troubleshooters and help improve execution of the national job plan that has been mired in problems of corruption and delayed payments.

The cell had recruited 11 ombudsmen, who act as a bridge between labourers employed under the scheme and government officials, at the fag end of 2011.

However, each of the monitors has had to cover two or more districts.

“With the recruitment of 13 new ombudsmen, each will be given the charge of one district. Thus, they can listen to the problems of villagers and help us solve them, thereby ensuring more efficient implementation of the national scheme,” state MGNREGS commissioner Arun told The Telegraph.

The districts for which the new ombudsmen will be picked are Dumka, Godda, Pakur, Jamtara, Giridih, Chatra, East Singhbhum, Garhwa, Lohardaga, Palamau, Simdega, Gumla and Khunti. The administration of the respective districts will organise the first round of screening of interested candidates, preferably social workers engaged with the rural job scheme, and send at least three names to the state headquarters, which will finalise a name for each district for appointment.

The recruitment process will take little over a month.

The ombudsman has to listen to various problems of MGNREGS labourers such as availability of work, wage payment and proper facility at workplace and take them up with the government officials concerned. He also has to regularly hold meetings with the beneficiaries in villages.

Problems such as delay in wage payment, mistakes in the project rolls crop up, which the ombudsmen convey to authorities at the block and district levels.

“I have been put in charge of two districts — Ranchi and Palamau. I hold camps in villages and listen to the problems of villagers regarding MGNREGS. However, I often have to shuttle between Ranchi and Palamau,” said Gurjit, one of the 11 ombudsmen.

In Jharkhand, 40.40 lakh families are eligible for jobs under MGNREGS, as they possess job cards.

However, until middle of March only around 14 lakh families have been brought under the scheme.

Officials complain that villagers are not coming up to demand jobs due to which the net expenditure of MGNREGS funds is not scaling up as desired.

“We have crossed the Rs 1,200-crore expenditure mark. By the end of this fiscal, we will be able to spend around Rs 1,300 crore. We are working very hard now,” said the MGNREGS commissioner, who was poring through files at his office today, despite it being a Sunday.

For 2012-13, Jharkhand has a budget of Rs 1,638 crore to be spent in MGNREGS works, which include construction of roads, ponds and wells.

Expressing hopes that the fresh appointments of ombudsmen would further improve the status of the job scheme in Jharkhand, the MGNREGS commissioner added, “Ombudsmen are significant for efficient implementation of MGNREGS. During the last one year, they have helped us a lot in executing the scheme.”