NOTWITHSTANDING THE politicking going on between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party leaders over implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), the State Government on Friday claimed that Uttar Pradesh was way ahead of the Congress-ruled Andhra Pradesh as far as generating man-days under the scheme was concerned.
“UP has generated more than 53 lakh man-days against 50 lakh man-days generated in Andhra,” said Principal Secretary, Rural Development KK Sinha after returning from his Andhra Pradesh tour this week. The State Government has lodged strong protests with the Centre for pointing an accusing finger on UP for its alleged lax performance, said Sinha.
His assertions have come after allegations from the Congress leaders saying that the State Government was not serious in implementing the NREGS and desired number of job cards has not been issued. Asked to comment, Sinha agreed that progress had not been up to mark in a number of the 22 districts being covered under the scheme.
Significantly, the State Government has also issued a note of caution to the divisional commissioners asking them to ensure effective monitoring of districts found lax. As performance in many districts has not been found up to mark, the State Government summoned the CDOs of 22 districts where the NREGS was being implemented. Besides asking them to increase the number of job cards issued there, the State Government has also sought clarification from the CDOs of Azamgarh, Banda, Chitrakoot and Lalitpur. The CDOs of almost all the districts have been warned on a number of occasions.
So is there a contradiction between the claims being made by the State Government and the actual performance of the districts at ground level? Truth probably lies between the two extremes. If sources were to be believed, the State Government was spending a sum of Rs 2 crore per day on implementing NREGS and the Food-for-Work scheme despite the general impressions that UP was lagging behind.
Significantly, the general impression was not without any basis. UP has been probably a late starter at the grass root level owing to scarcity of staff. A senior officer, who visited Mahoba as national level monitor, in his report has stressed upon the need for deployment of more technical personnel. As a result the State Government has decided to hire technical personnel from open market on contract basis. “We have empowered 163 joint BDOs to take care the work of the BDOs to ensure speedy implementation of the NREGS,” said Sinha.
Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav had also requested the Centre to implement the NREGS in other backward districts as well. The Centre had informed the State Government that more districts would be included in the scheme whenever the scheme was extended to other districts, he said. As per the provisions of NREGS Act, the scheme was to be implemented in all the districts in the next 5 years.
Ongoing war of words and politicking aside, if the NREGS was implemented effectively the ground water level may go up in UP in the days to come. This is because the State Government has decided to dig one pond in each of the 1800 Gram Sabhas in the 22 districts. Sinha said 3,000 ponds have been already dug under the scheme while the work was in progress on 3000 other ponds. “This is one of the best schemes for water conservation,” he said. Besides the NREGS the ponds were also being dug under the Sampoorn Gramin Rojgar Yojana and the Adasrh Jalasay Yojana, he added.