NREGA work in Jharkhand comes under scanner
A Jharkhand-based NREGA watchdog outfit has alleged irregularities in implementation of the Central government scheme in Sahibganj district of the state, indicating nexus between contractors and local officials.
Convener of Jharkhand NREGA Watch, James Herenz, has emailed a letter to Sahibganj deputy development commissioner (DDC) Prabhat Kumar Badiyar, who is also the district programme coordinator of MGNREGS, complaining about the irregularities carried out in Taljhari block of the district.
The letter points out that during inspection of various areas of the block in the last week of March, the members of NREGA Watch found that there have been violation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) 2005 provisions in selection and implementation of projects.
The copies of the letter have been sent to Jharkhand NREGA commissioner B. Rajeshwari and Jharkhand rural development secretary Manish Ranjan. It has also been posted on twitter, tagging chief minister Hemant Soren.
Badiyar said: “I have got the complaint and will carry out a probe into the allegation.”
The letter alleges: “In 10 panchayats of the block, around 441 schemes of construction of platforms have been completed in the financial year 2021-22 which has been entered under flood control category in the MIS of the MGREGS portal, which is a violation of the circular issued by Union rural development ministry in January 2014,” the letter alleges.
The letter further alleges that several other schemes have been taken under MGNREGS which pertains to concrete construction works and violates the ratio of 60:40 of workers' wage and material cost.
“All these schemes have been initiated between January and February of 2022 and indirectly hints at giving benefits to contractors,” the letter states.
The letter also alleges that as per MGNREGA rules 2013 section 8.5, the muster rolls of workers are suggested to be for seven man-days but in Taljhari block the muster rolls of workers for the entire fiscal 2021-22 has been created for 14 man-days.
“It is clear that this has been done so that rural workers get their wages delayed and the workers remain at the mercy of the contractors to get the cash at the right time. It is a cruel injustice on poor rural workers,” James alleged.
The letter requests for stopping all such schemes and initiating action against those officials who are found responsible under MGNREGA section 25.
The Central government had in January sought report from the Jharkhand rural development department on the irregularities detected in the concurrent audit of MGNREGA schemes.
The concurrent social audit report revealed that only 25 per cent of the workers were found at the sites where projects under MGNREGA were underway in Jharkhand. There were 36 projects where definite evidence has been found of work being done by JCB excavator machines (prohibited under MGNREGA). Around 85 projects were detected where muster rolls have not been created at all but work has been started.