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`Corruption mars implementation of NREGA`

A government-sponsored study on NREGA has found large-scale corruption and irregularities.

New Delhi: A government-sponsored study on NREGA has found large-scale corruption and irregularities in the implementation of the programme in several states with authorities in some areas "misappropriating" central funds and "threatening" workers to keep their mouth shut.

"There was great fraud in making (of job) cards, muster rolls were not maintained properly, and work was not provided to job seekers sometimes...," a team of researchers of VV Giri National Labour Institute noted in their draft report suggesting the government to take preventive measures.

The study has found that in many cases, workers performed one day`s job but their attendance was put for 33 days. The workers got money for one day while wages for 32 days were "misappropriated by the people associated with the functioning
of NREGS".

"I fact, the workers were threatened to keep their mouths shut. One of them mentioned that NREGS had proved to be a boon for the panchayat and functionaries," they said in the report.

The study, sponsored by Rural Development Ministry, was initiated in September 2008. The research team visited Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

They collected secondary material and also elicited information from different stakeholders like Gram Pradhan and beneficiary workers, besides interviewing implementing agencies and personnel.

The study team found that in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal and Bihar, the job cards were not in the possession of workers but sarpanchs and other
panchayat functionaries while in many cases job cards were found fudged with fake entries.

"In most of the cases, job cards were found in the
possession of sarpanchs or other panchayat functionaries. In
many cases it was found that job cards were fudged and fake
entries made," it said.

The report also noted "interpersonal conflicts" among
project officers, block development officers and sarpanches,
saying this has affected the performance and efficiency of the
project officers.

"In some places, the sarpanchs were using their
political clouts to trouble the some cases, the BDOs
were sore about snatching away of their signatory authority on
NREGS cheques," it noted.

The report suggested monitoring of workers and daily task
measurements by "technical specialists".

"There should be a Monitoring Committee consisting of
some members of civil society, along with the panchayat
functionaries and beneficiary workers," it said.