Asks petitioner to approach government authorities with his complaints of irregularities

The Madras High Court Bench here on Monday dismissed a public interest litigation petition filed by an aged agriculturalist alleging that Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) has led to shortage of farm labourers besides encouraging laziness among the labour force and corruption at the official level.

K. Periasamy (76) of Dindigul had sought for a direction to the Centre to lay down guidelines for works implemented under the MGNREGS. However, a Division Bench of Justices R. Banumathi and B. Rajendran declined to entertain the petition at the admission stage itself on the ground that the court could not interfere with the policy decision taken by the Centre. Stating that the MGNREGS Act, 2005, had inbuilt safeguards to check malpractices, the judges gave liberty to the petitioner to approach the authorities if he happened to come across specific instances of irregularities. The petitioner had alleged wrongdoings in implementing the scheme at his native Sanarpatti panchayat in Dindigul taluk.

Arguing the case in person, the petitioner pointed out that the scheme was notified on September 7, 2005 with the object of enhancing the livelihood of people living below the poverty line in rural areas by providing unskilled manual work to one member of each family for at least 100 days in a year. It was implemented in 200 districts initially and later extended to 130 more districts across the country in 2007.

In April 2008, it was implemented across the country except the districtswhich had 100 per cent urban population. The scheme, implemented as NREGS since 2005, got renamed as MGNREGS from October 2, 2009. The money towards wages for employees was forwarded by the Centre through the State Governments to the local bodies. And the daily wages was raised to Rs.120 from Rs.100. But in reality, the labourers were paid only around Rs. 80 and allowed to go home after doing minimal work.

The employees do not complain about such payment as they were contended with receiving money for performing superficial work. Absence of an effective cross checking mechanism over the works completed under the scheme and the number of labourers engaged to perform the jobs had led to the officials creating bogus list of labourers and swindling large amount of money.

“The noble scheme, implemented in the name of our Father of our Nation is working against the real motto. In fact, the victim of the above scheme is the agricultural sector There is non-availability of agricultural labour force in the villages,” Mr. Periasamy added.

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