Complaints over corruption, irregularities and improper implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) — the world’s largest social security programme in terms of people covered and money spent to combat rural poverty — continue to pile up due to slow grievance redressal mechanism in states.
According to official data, about 488 complaints are pending with various state governments for verification and action taken report since 2007.
The Rural Development Ministry, the nodal ministry in charge of implementing the scheme, claims that 295 pending cases were disposed of till March 31 this year and 146 since April onwards. But, Rural Development Minister C P Joshi said the number of such complaints was not in lakhs. “This is just an aberration,” he said, while admitting that the complaints redressal mechanism under NREGS in states was slow.
He said his ministry was addressing the issue on priority basis. “We are trying to find a way out. As a first step, we are appointing ombudsman and vigilance monitoring committees in every district of the country.”
The ombudsman will act as an independent authority and try to expeditiously redress the complaints related to execution of the scheme. “The government has also initiated social audit of NREGS at the district level,” Joshi said.
Since April, the ministry has received 311 such complaints.
According to ministry records, Uttar Pradesh tops the list with 104 complaints followed by Rajasthan (72), Madhya Pradesh (57) and Bihar (22).
They even include complaints by VIPs — chief ministers, union ministers and MPs. According to the official data, 56 VIP complaints are pending with various state governments since 2007.
One such complaint by Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh about alleged corruption and irregularities in the NREGS implementation in Bihar’s Munger district is pending with the state government since September 2007.
He has since sent six reminders to the Bihar government but a reply is still awaited. On an average, a state government takes 1-2 years to address a complaint.
However, the ministry said 42 out of 92 complaints were disposed of till March 31, and seven since April. It has received 13 such complaints this year.