Special social audit reveals huge variations in fund disbursement and work completion
Works being taken up under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) are meant to provide some relief to the rural poor through allocation of works when there are no farm operations.
A huge sum of Rs. 3,375 crore is being disbursed as wages to the wage seekers and though there are some success stories like poor families able to improve their income and some permanent assets having been created in and around villages, probing into the implementation of the scheme still brings out some flaws.
The Department of Rural Development of Andhra Pradesh ordered a special social audit done in some Agency mandals of the district following huge variation the sum supposed to have been disbursed to the wage-seekers, the actual amount they have received or the work completed.
A visit to Balliguda village in Dumbriguda mandal adjacent to this famous tourist destination revealed all is not well. While there are allegations of huge sums of money not being accounted for in some areas, Balliguda gave a different picture-the programme did not move forward after a certain stage and the coffee plants are not being groomed and the farmers are denied the chance of reaping a good return from the crop.
The villagers here, all belonging to the primitive tribal group of Kondu, are engaged in raising coffee plantation and silver oak trees that are needed to provide shade to the coffee plants.
The programme commenced three years ago and the villagers took up the initial work of jungle clearance, followed by line marking, digging pits (900 for coffee plants and 1,000 for silver oak on an acre of land), planting the plants and filling up the pits. The bench-terracing, making 30 rows of plants on an acre of land, creating a fire path used to remove weeds, that should follow planting of coffee plants are not taken up.
The authorities seemed to have satisfied themselves with providing saplings to the farmers and get them planted, just to show that they have done some thing. More amount of money has to be disbursed to the villagers from this point of work.
This came to light during a visit to the village where a special social audit is being conducted by representatives of SSAAT at the direction of the Rural Development Department. The reason for officials not continuing with the work is that they are not ready to face any allegations of misappropriation and stopped the activity here, but they are also denying creating a permanent benefit to the villagers, said Satyanarayana Reddy of SSAAT. The details received by the SSAAT team showed a huge variation between the estimated expenditure and the money actually spent (given to the wage-seeker).
Villagers like Pangi Lalu also complained that wages for the last week of work done during late 2012 are not paid yet.
He and others said they just do not understand how the mate in the village calculates the wages to be given to them or informed how they will be paid.