(NEWS) NREGA is a failure in Bundelkhand - THE HINDU

A region where NREGA is a failure
Mahim Pratap Singh
In Bundelkhand, M.P, scheme plagued by corruption; it has created neither jobs nor assets

Empty document: Gurba Ahirwar of Akona village in Madhya Pradesh showing his NREGA job card, with no entries made in it.

CHHATTARPUR / TIKAMGARH (MADHYA PRADESH): The implementation of the scheme under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) might not be as great a success here as the government and social auditors have claimed it to be across the country.

If statements of rural people of Bundelkhand are to be believed, the NREGA has practically failed in either providing employment, curbing migration or creating viable community assets.

In the last three years, the State government has spent over Rs.8,000 crore on the scheme. However, results remain unsatisfactory.

Delayed payment

Corruption and delayed payment of wages plague the NREGA apparatus in Chhattarpur and Tikamgarh. Reports from other districts also paint a similar grim picture.

The Union government recently increased the number of job days from 100 to 200, but people here are not celebrating and would prefer migrating to Delhi.

Asked why people did not want to work under the scheme, Chhattarpur Collector E. Ramesh Kumar said:“The NREGA is a demand driven scheme. We can provide work only if it is demanded. Still, we are working towards generating demand by spreading awareness of the Act.”

Rozgaar guarantee mein kyun kaam karein [why should we work under the scheme],” asks Bootha Ahirwar, a farmer from Majhora in the Bakswaha block.

“We have to pay bribes, face intimidation and still wages are never paid on time. Private employers pay less, but at least we get paid at the end of the day.” Add to this the high-handedness of panchayat officials. Villagers from Dheemarpura, Khandwa, Bairbaar, Pathara in Tikamgarh district complained that their job cards were being withheld by the sarpanch.

“My card has been with the sarpanch for the past two years. Whenever I ask for it, he threatens me and says there is no work for me,” says Daru Saur, only tribal from Tikamgarh district’s Binwara, where not a single gram sabha has been held for the last five years.

“We have had some complaints, but action has been taken and the cards have been returned to people,” says R.G.Ahirwar, CEO, Janpad in the Niwadi block. The villagers, however, say the returned cards have been taken away once again.

Further, the basic premise of the NREGA, that is, consultation with the community through gram sabhas on the nature of work to be taken up has hardly been fulfilled. In most villages, gram sabhas have not been convened for years.

As a result, community participation is largely absent. This has been reflected in the consistent degradation of traditional waterbodies in the region. The NREGA could have been a means of rejuvenating 1,600 such structures in Chhattarpur and Tikamgarh, but authorities seem to have lost that opportunity.



Courtesy: THE HINDU