The government has decided to carry out an independent evaluation of the rural job scheme and has called applications for a 100-member monitoring panel.
Retired judges, former ambassadors bureaucrats and defence officers can monitor the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), the UPA’s flagship job scheme.
“Standards vary from place to place and grievances arise from time to time. There are also cases of deviation from the law,” a rural development ministry official, who didn’t wish to be identified, said.
“ Independent evaluation and monitoring of NREGA will seek to resolve the difficulties in its implementation."
The rural development ministry, responsible for the implementation of the plan, has sought applications and nominations for the panel for a third-party assessment of the world's largest social security scheme, in terms of people covered and money spent.
The scheme was launched in February 2006 and the UPA government has invested heavily in it. The 2009-10 budgetary allocation of Rs 39,100 crore witnessed a 144 per cent jump from the last fiscal's Rs 16,000 crore. However, the 2008-09 budget had been augmented to Rs 27,137.87 crore to provide employment opportunities to more than 4.47 crore households in rural India.
The panel — to be reconstituted after every two years — will also be open to entrepreneurs with exemplary track record in corporate social responsibility, social activists, academics and scientists, too, will be allowed on the panel.
“Comments will be sought from the public about the applicants and the selection will be done on the basis of the feedback," the official said.
Each member will be allocated a district to monitor and will have to undertake a six-day visit once a year. The members will have the authority to seek any information from the officials regarding the plan and submit reports to the state governments and the Centre.