Special Correspondent

Implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in Rajasthan

JAIPUR: Despite the Rajasthan Government's tall claims of having achieved decentralisation of democracy, the role of elected representatives of Panchayati Raj institutions has been undermined in the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) in six districts of the State. Elected panchayat functionaries are either ignorant or kept out of the exercise for the scheme's execution.

The Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), making these observations in a study assessing the role of panchayats in the delivery of NREGS in Karauli district, has expressed an anxiety that in the absence of aware elected representatives, empowered Gram Sabhas and active citizens, the best-designed development schemes such as NREGS could meet a "pathetic end".

The study, conducted by PRIA in association with 10 voluntary development organisations, covered nearly 3,000 households and 30 village panchayats in four panchayat samitis -- Sapotara, Karauli, Nadauti and Hindaun -- in Karauli district recently and found huge gaps in the scheme's implementation. Other five districts where NREGS is being implemented are Banswara, Dungarpur, Udaipur, Sirohi and Jhalawar.

The State Coordinator of PRIA, Anju Dwivedi, said here on Wednesday that the facts and figures generated from the field showed that people in panchayats knew very little about the scheme in entirety. "The ignorance pervades all the three tiers of Panchayati Raj institutions," she said.

The role of panchayats envisaged in NREGS in the State pertains to planning of work, registering households, issuing job cards, allocating employment, executing 50 per cent of the work and monitoring and implementation of the scheme.