'Gram Sabhas not involved in NREGA work planning'

New Delhi: Gram Sabhas are not involved in planning of work under NREGA scheme and in many areas, "poor and thoughtless" strategies evolved by authorities are resulting in low quality outfit, a consortium of civil society organisations has claimed in its report.

"Plans are made and approved at the top and sent downwards for implementation by the Gram Pradhans," National Consortium of Civil Society Organisations on NREGA has claimed in its first annual report.

Citing an example of poor planning under NREGA, the report said, "Plantation is done, but no provision is made for watering, nor is any mechanical or human protection planned against grazing. The plantations are thus destroyed fast".

The consortium is a group of 51 civil society organisations, working across 58 blocks of 44 most backward districts in 11 states of the country, that have come together to make NREGA a success.

It claimed that "very little" effort has been made in many states to mobilise the people for taking active part in plan formulation.

"Given the low level of support infrastructure provided for NREGA works, it is not surprising that quality of work undertaken is uniformly reported to be poor," it added.

The consortium claimed that there are instances when the Gram Sabha (GS) was not aware of the plans nor did people know that without their approval, work cannot be implemented.

"There is still a tendency of states or districts to dictate the work to be carried out and there is little evidence on the ground of planning happening with the genuine involvement of the GPs and GS," Planning Commission member Mihir Shah has said in the report.

In Rajnandgaon, Raigarh, Sarguja and Jashpur district of Chhattisgarh, work is focussed mainly on activities for which standardised estimates are available, the report noted.

In Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh, there is an absence of annual plan. The shelf of projects exists but it is very broad in nature and the activities are not well defined. The general practice is that funds are released first and then the activities are identified, it said.

"In Gujarat, the planning process again does not involve the people directly. While records suggest that the Gram Sabha was involved, field checks belie this claim," it said.

It suggested that unless efforts are made for social mobilisation, NREGA cannot emerge as a people-centred programme.

Bureau Report