Staff Correspondent

None of the registered beneficiaries has been employed under the scheme

Centre has released Rs. 40 crore as initial grant to implement the scheme this financial year

Only 22 gram panchayats of total 165 have prepared action plans under the NREGS

Raichur: The Karnataka High Court on Monday ordered the issue of notices to the Principal Secretary of the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, the Development Commissioner, and the Director of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) giving them 15 days’ time to submit their explanations for their failure to handle the problems faced by beneficiaries under the scheme in Raichur district.

The Centre released Rs. 40 crore as initial grant to implement the scheme during this financial year.

More than two lakh people in the five taluks in the district had filed their applications seeking employment under the scheme. The gram panchayats issued 1,93,373 job cards to the identified beneficiaries, and 1,25,568 of them opened savings accounts in banks.

Yet the Raichur Zilla Panchayat, the implementing agency, has not chalked out any plans under the scheme. So far, none of the registered beneficiaries has been employed. The zilla panchayat even failed to clear the pending cases filed by the beneficiaries for payment of unemployment allowance and compensation against the delay in payment of wages.

The gram panchayats in the district have failed to submit action plans for the current financial year. Staff shortage in the gram panchayats has also affected the progress of work in some parts of the district.

Elected representatives of the district, including district in-charge Minister C.M. Udasi, have remained silent on the problems faced by the beneficiaries.

The situation has forced agricultural workers to migrate to cities in search of employment.

Last week, Abhayakumar, organiser of the Janapara Sanghatanegala Janti Kriya Samiti, filed a public interest litigation (PIL) petition in the Karnataka High Court seeking directions to the Government to solve the problems faced by beneficiaries under the NREGS and implement the scheme properly in Raichur district. The High Court, responding to the appeal, has served a show-cause notice to the State Government directing it to give its explanation on the issue within two weeks. A group of affected beneficiaries under the banner of the Navajeevan Mahila Okkuta have been on a dharna here since Friday demanding unemployment allowance and compensation for delay in payment of wages.

Mr. Abhayakumar told The Hindu on Monday that in the past six months, the implementing agency had spent only Rs.7.37 crore of the Rs. 40 crore received from the Centre.

Except 22 gram panchayats of the total of 165 in the district, the others had not yet prepared any action plan for 2008-09 under the NREGS. The situation had forced the zilla panchayat to suspend implementation of the scheme, he said.He said the zilla panchayat had to release Rs. 24 lakh towards the payment of unemployment allowance and compensation to about 800 beneficiaries. But there was no response from the authorities concerned at the zilla panchayat. In response to a complaint filed by him, the officer at the Labour Department here had written a letter to N.V. Prasad, chief executive officer of the zilla panchayat, regarding the issue. But no action had been taken in this regard. He alleged that apart from failing to take up social audit of the implementation of the NREGS in the past two years, the zilla panchayat has failed to fill the vacant postsin gram panchayats.