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Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 18, 2014
UPA's two programmes named after India's biggest political icons --- Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru --- have failed to deliver desired outcomes, the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) has said. The IEO, a body under the Planning Commission, is taking up a detailed study on the UPA's key schemes --- Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (MG-NREGA) aimed at creating infrastructure in rural and urban India respectively.

"We have found that the two schemes named after India's biggest icons have not worked on the ideals for which they were initiated," Ajay Chhibber, director general of IEO said on Tuesday, adding that wages to NREGA workers have not been disbursed in Rajasthan since July last.

The UPA has attributed success of MG-NREGA as a reason for its return to power in 2009. The IEO in its preliminary evaluation has found that the scheme has not been to create rural infrastructure to boost local economy even though the government has spent over Rs. 2,00,000 crore under this flagship scheme.

"MG-NREGA had mixed results due to poor implementation, corruption and leakages of the fund. There is also a question over the quality of assets constructed under MG-NREGA projects," Chhibber said, adding that the IEO has initiated an evaluation of the world's biggest social security scheme for those on the margins.

JNNURM, the UPA's seventh biggest flagship programme to help upcoming cities to cope with growing urbanisation, has failed to deliver. "The programme has basic design flaw. There was no relation between the urban reform being sought and the projects being approved if the reforms were implemented," he added.

As a result, just one percent of the housing projects and 18% of urban infrastructure projects were completed till 2012. Bihar was worst in initiating reforms and implementing projects and a probable reason was that the projects were not in line with Bihar's urban needs. 

The IEO, which became operation just last month, will evaluate JNNURM to come up with recommendations for more sustainable approach to financing and management of basic infrastructure and better services especially for the poor and urban slum dwellers.

Chhibber said the interim reports of the two programmes would be submitted to the government in June along with a report on the efficacy of the Public Distribution System (PDS).