STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: Alleging large scale irregularities and bungling in the implementation of MGNREGA scheme in the State, JKNPP Chairman and former Minister, Harsh Dev Singh petitioned the Union Rural Development Minister seeking a high level probe into all spending under the scheme by the J&K RDD for three years.
Harsh regretted that in the absence of ombudsman or any other monitoring authority, the huge funding under MG-NREGA scheme has been looted and plundered with none to take cognizance of the frauds in RDD making headlines in the media every other day. He reminisced that the Union Government had issued specific instructions to all State Governments in 2009 for immediate creation of the institutions of ombudsmen at District level in their respective states so as to check pilferage of rural development and employment guarantee funds provided to the states under the scheme. He regretted that while the state of J&K has availed thousands of crores under the aforesaid national flagship programme, it has failed to initiate any action whatsoever with regard to appointment of ombudsmen in the state. Harsh, while sharing his experiences after his tours of the various rural areas, said that in the absence of ombudsmen in various districts, the funds under the MGNREGA scheme were being siphoned off by unscrupulous officials in connivance with certain vested interests. He said that the flagrant violation of Union Government stipulated norms in identification and execution of works, large scale variations in labour-material ratio, extremely poor quality works, fictitious bills, inflated billing for materials used, withdrawal of payments for non-existent works, diversion of funds, non provision of employment to job card holders, etc were the general complaints of the public in the rural areas visited by him. He said that the rural folk almost unanimously complained everywhere that no notice was taken by the authorities concerned regarding the omissions and commissions in MGNREGA.
Harsh regretted that even the complaints filed by him with helmsmen regarding the blatant violations and other irregularities in MGNREGA in District Udhampur particularly Ramnagar constituency on the basis of feedback received from the ground, had failed to elicit any response from concerned quarters. He said that in view of well knit mafias in the Rural Development Department, the funds meant for the poor, needy and rural unemployed were being swindled thereby defeating the very purpose of the scheme. He regretted that the State Government too could not be absolved of its criminal vicarious liability as the in-explicable delay had allowed the corrupt and unscrupulous elements to siphon the funds envisaged for empowerment of rural poor.
Seeking immediate action for appointment of ombudsmen, Harsh cautioned that any further delay would invite strong public reaction with Panthers Party holding protests outside offices of various RDD officers including the Ministers concerned. He said that the appointment of ombudsmen, having powers to take disciplinary as well as punitive action against the offenders under the MGNREGA, would further serve as a deterrent upon the corrupt and dishonest functionaries of the Rural Development Department. He appealed to the Chief Minister and Union RD Minister to take due cognizance of the MGNREGA frauds and further ensure the early constitution of the much delayed monitoring and evaluation authority on the lines of Lok Pal as envisaged under the Act.
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