The much-touted Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Rural Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) of the central government is not even known to residents of Feroze village, in Jalandhar West assembly constituency.
Residents have not heard of job cards and no work has ever been assigned to them. However, the MGNREGA website claims that four villagers have received employment under the scheme.
Villagers deny such claims and allege that the figures have been manipulated. Sources said that 99 villagers did register under the scheme, but none received any job cards.
"More than four years ago, some officials visited our village, filled our forms and opened our accounts in banks. No government official has visited us since in connection with the MGNREGA. We are not even aware of our rights under the scheme," said Karnail Chand, a villager, who has been 'availed employment' according to the list.
The village has a population of over 1,000 houses with Dalits comprising 85 per cent. The majority of the village population woks as daily labourers and it is ironical that they would have really benefitted from the scheme.
The irregularities in the scheme are further underlined as the job card of a physically handicapped and bed-ridden man, Raj Kumar, has also shown to have issued on the website.
New sarpanch Gurmej Thapar told HT: "I accessed the status of my village on the website and came to know of the irregularities. There is something wrong somewhere. We will now move an application to ADC (development) and demand the issue of new job cards to registered villagers. The matter needs to be thoroughly probed," he added.
ADC (development) Harminder Singh said, "Job cards are directly supplied to the beneficiaries through panchayat secretaries by block development and panchayat officers. We have not received any complaint in this regard so far. We will probe complaints of payments made to villagers without any job cards."
Former sarpanch, Paramjeet Kaur, said, "We did not collect cards from the ADC office as no one from the village expressed willingness to work at the rates prevalent in district. It is surprising for me to hear that employment has been shown as given to some villagers. This is wrong and should be checked."
Karnail Chand It is shocking. When I do not even have any information about my job card, how can I avail employment? The money must have been swindled. The system works in such a fraudulent manner for our country.
Bholi My husband Buta is unemployed most of the time. If we had information about these job cards, we could have availed its benefits.
Raj Kumar I have been bed-ridden for years due to an incurable disease. I am surprised my name is there on the list of beneficiaries. No government authority has ever tried to help me and my family.
Dilveer Chand We only know about the concept of voter cards. In the village too, no one knows a thing about MGNREGA or the job cards. We will now approach authorities to ensure proper implementation of the scheme
I am a widow. Our ex-sarpanch never bothered to check our status on the site. We all filled bank opening forms, but officials just vanished after that
Harmesh Singh We have been duped for over four hours. We demand an inquiry into the whole fiasco and strict action against those found guilty.
Satpal When our sarpanch informed us of MGNREGA, we were surprised. We should have taken some education at least to protect our rights.