With Rajasthan sliding behind in various performance parameters in implementation of the much talked about jobs guarantee scheme, MGNREGS, a large number of villagers representing 19 organisations sat on dharna along with social activist Aruna Roy here on Thursday to highlight the neglect of the path-breaking initiative which the State had pioneered.

A delegation led by Ms. Roy and other members of Suchana Evum Rozgar Ka Adhikar Abhiyan submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot later asking him to implement the agreement they had reached with the State Government after a 45-day dharna in November 2010 on various aspects including indexation of rates under MGNREGS and compensation for delayed wages. The delegation expressed their concern over the decline in the State's spending in the jobs scheme from Rs.6175 crore in 2009-10 to Rs.3330 crore in 2010-11.

“The NREGS is used as a red herring by the Centre and the State. There appears to be no will on their part to make this programme work,” Ms. Roy said talking to media persons at the dharna. “The scheme has attracted the attention of other countries like Mexico and South Africa but in India there seems to be no real intention to carry on with it,” she lamented.

“All over the country people are asking questions. It is a matter of good governance. It is an accepted fact that the social audits are an effective system to curb malpractices and bring in accountability, but in most of the States including Rajasthan the governments are showing no commitment to this,” Ms. Roy charged.

The activists were concerned about attacks on those who sought information on MGNREGS under the Right to Information Act.

In two such major cases—that of Mangalram Meghwal of Bamnor village in Barmer, who was attacked in March 2011, and Dhura Ram of Nokha tehsil in Bikaner on February 2 this year—no action had been initiated so far and the culprits are roaming free, they pointed out. Dhura Ram, attacked allegedly by the son of Somalsar village Sarpanch, is still in hospital.

The activists complained of all-round deterioration in implementation of the scheme in Rajasthan.