Reacting to reports of alleged misappropriation of funds in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP), members in the Rajya Sabha have demanded the setting up of a full-proof mechanism to plug loopholes in the UPA government’s flagship rural job scheme.
A monitoring panel needs to be set up to prevent corruption in the scheme, Congress member V. Narainswamy said in the Upper House on Wednesday.
Hindustan Times (October 16 edition) had reported that Orissa and Chhattisgarh allegedly diverted a whopping Rs 550 crore from the NREGP funds for purposes other than generating employment in the rural areas.
The report had quoted findings of the New Delhi-based Centre for Environment and Food Security (CEFS) that 75% of the NREGP funds spent in Orissa in 2006-07 (Rs. 500 crore of the total Rs 733 crore spent) were siphoned off.
Narainswamy said 68%, and not 75% as reported by the media, of funds in Orissa had been siphoned off. He also cited similar reports concerning misappropriation of funds in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Pointing out that the demand for jobs under the scheme hasn’t increased, CPM leader Brinda Karat said this was because of the limited and rigid definition of work under the plan.
Wage payments and productivity norms also need to be revised, she said. Arjun Sengupta (Ind) said there is an opportunity for the NREGP to set up an example for other social programs. Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh is expected to reply to the debate on Thursday.