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Confusion over job scheme implementation in Belgaum

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FOR RIGHTS: A member demanding representation for women in standing committees at a zilla panchayat meeting in Belgaum on Monday.
FOR RIGHTS: A member demanding representation for women in standing committees at a zilla panchayat meeting in Belgaum on Monday.

Staff Correspondent

Members see poor progress, panchayat CEO cites guideline problems

Belgaum: Confusion on the ambitious National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) prevails in the Belgaum Zilla Panchayat where the elected members cry hoarse over the poor progress made under the scheme and the Chief Executive Officer N. Prabhakar cites problems with the guidelines.

It was apparent from the discussion at the general body meeting of the panchayat here on Monday that a majority of the members had very little idea about the scheme, although it came into implementation in the district four months ago. No details about the scheme were provided to the members. Neither they were posted on the official website of the panchayat, which is rarely updated.

The NREGS, as per the NREGS Act, 2005, provides for the enhancement of livelihood security of people in rural areas by ensuring at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in every financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

According to the Project Director in the panchayat, S.B. Mulavalli, the scheme was supposed to take off in the district from April 1, 2007. However, the action plan was prepared only in the end of October that year.

There was confusion over mutually contradictory figures provided by Mr. Prabhakar and Mr. Mulavalli. Mr. Prabhakar said the Government had sanctioned Rs. 324 crore and 4,500 various works identified under the scheme. Of this, the Government had released Rs. 40 crore and at least Rs. 3 crore was provided to each of the 10 taluks in the district. A sum of Rs. 3 crore to Rs. 3.50 crore was still with the panchayat.

However, Mr. Mulavalli put the sanctioned amount to Rs. 424 crore and said Rs. 12 crore was released so far.

The issue came up for discussion when the senior member Rajendra Sannaki challenged the officials to produce proof of implementation of the scheme.

He said the implementation of the scheme was almost “zero” in the district, even though a sum of not less than Rs. 50 lakh as grants were provided to each gram panchayat in the district during 2007-08.

He also said that the authorities had failed to implement drinking water supply and social forestry schemes in Gokak taluk during this financial year.

Appasaheb Pandurang Avatade also alleged that work had not been taken up under the NREGS in Athani taluk.

In his response, Mr. Prabhakar attributed the problems confronting the implementation of the scheme to the “unwillingness” of the labourers or rural workers to accept Rs. 74 per day. However, he did not elaborate on the fate of the sanctioned funds if the situation continued for long.

Unable to give proper replies to the questions on guidelines raised by Arjun Nagappa Goral, Mr. Prabhakar said: “Even I am facing problems due to certain guidelines and [have] written to the Government requesting not to make ‘measurement’ (of works) compulsory.”

Earlier, after discussing on how to constitute various standing committees, the members decided to set up a committee of members from all political parties under the chairmanship of the panchayat president Nazir Ahmed Nadaf. Subsequently, the committee would select members for the standing committees.

Raising the issue of women’s rights, Mahananda Somlinga Nivalgi said the house should ensure adequate representation to women members in each committee. The women members should not be ignored as it had been happening until now, she said.

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