A social audit of the NREGS undertaken in Bhilwara district in south Rajasthan has led to a piquant situation. The panchayati raj officials are unhappy with the social audit whoch found irregularities of Rs 1.3 crore and claim that the local administration has misled them.
They are threatening to boycott the UPA government's flagshhip employment scheme from November 1, demanding that the action taken against those found guilty of irregualritites be revoked.
At a meeting on October 20, Bhilwara Sarpanch Sangh president Kishore Sharma accused collector Manju Rajpal of betrayal and has announced that all 381 gram panchayts in the district would boycotting NREGS from November 1.
Bhilwara, 267 km south east of Jaipur, is the constituency of union rural development and panchayati raj minister C P Joshi.
The Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), headed by social activist Aruna Roy, invited 400 resource persons from across Rajasthan for training and carrying out the social audit. It was done between October 1 and 11 in the district. The audit entailed making public the development works undertaken and money spent under the scheme.
In their report, the activists mentioned that irregulariites of Rs 1.41 crore had been found. Subsequently, 16 FIRs were lodged against Sarpanchs, gram secretaries, employment assistants (rojgar sahayak), junior engineers and programme officers.
The sarpanchs and gram secretaries had protested when Joshi had in September announced of special social auditing in Bhilwara over the complaints of corruption in NREGS. They say that collector Manju Rajpal had promised them that it would be suggestive and reformative auditing and no action would be taken against those found guilty. On this, the Sarpanchs agreed for social auditing.
Now there is a deadlock between the district administration and Sarpanchs and gram secretaries who say the authorities have betrayed them. Everyone is waiting for October 26, when a group of sarpanchs and gram sachivs and rozgar sahayaks will meet state panchayati raj minister Bharat Singh.