Five persons of Bakani village died several years ago but their names were included in the muster roll maintained by the government of labourers given employment under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). And the sarpanch got payment for this.
This, and several other discrepancies in the implementation of the scheme, came to light when teams of the Rozgar Avam Suchna Adhikar Abhiyan — including Central Employment Guarantee Council members Aruna Roy, Jean Dreze and Anne Raja — conducted a social audit of six districts in Jhalawar district, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s constituency.
They also found that several villagers who had migrated long back were on the muster rolls, that many Dalits had not got job cards and a few had been forced to “bribes” to unscrupulous sarpanches to get the cards. It was further revealed that low quality material was being used in the construction projects being undertaken under the scheme and panchayat officials were earning from this too.
“A sarpanch and sachiv of Banskhedi panchayat have been charging various amounts from people to make job cards,” said Roy. Devlal, a Dalit from Punyakhedi, alleged the duo had refused to give him a job as he couldn’t cough up the Rs 1,000 they were demanding. “Such unscrupulous elements are violating the NREGA with impunity and government officials are trying to save the offenders,” said Raja.
Dreze said: “Vested interests are trying to defeat the purpose of the NREGA, which is meant to help the needy, and it is a dangerous sign. Everyone must contribute in preventing the corrupt people from misutilising funds meant for poor people.”
Sociologist Rajiv Gupta said “the state government must have the will to implement such a scheme, punish corrupt officials and monitor the properly”.
However, principal secretary, rural development, Ram Lubhaya rubbished the allegations, saying “it is a one-sided report and far from the truth”. He disclosed that the government had sought a detailed report from officials though a preliminary report did not prove any corruption in the execution of the NREGA.