Workforce boosted for Ministers’ drought visit?

Pretence?:While 26 persons worked at a MNREGA site in Ichanahalli, Hassan, during the Ministers’ visit on Sunday, only three worked on Monday.— photo: by special arrangement  

Officers of the Hassan Zilla Panchayat appeared to have created “scenes” with large workforce at Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) worksites to impress the Cabinet sub-committee members, who visited the drought-hit areas on Sunday. Reporters who visited the same sites on Monday, however, found only a fraction of that force at work.

On Sunday, Megalakatte tank at Ichanahalli in Kandali Gram Panchayat had more than 26 workers involved in dredging. They were tutored to answer questions raised by the visiting Ministers, including T.B. Jayachandra, H.S. Mahadev Prasad, and H.C. Mahadevappa, in the presence of the media. The women told the Ministers that they had been working at the site since November 2015.

When reporters reached the same spot on Monday afternoon, there were only three persons. A.H. Manje Gowda, Panchayat Development Officer (PDO) of the Kandali Gram Panchayat, claimed 12 persons were working on Monday, but when reporters visited the spot many had gone for lunch. Further, he said the workers had availed themselves of a holiday on Tuesday.

Similarly at Savasihalli in Belur taluk, the Ministers saw 60 people working at Siddanakki Katte tank on Sunday. Shivanna, PDO of Savasihalli Gram Panchayat, said the number of workers was 40 on Monday. When asked about the number of people working on Tuesday, he said the workers had gone for a wedding. Sources in the zilla panchayat said the PDOs were given the “task” of bringing more workers during the Ministers’ visit to give an impression that many people had been given jobs during drought. Though the PDOs deny pressure from senior officers, the sudden decline in the number of workers over the next days suggests to the contrary. It is alleged that that in some places some were even “lured” to pose as workers by offering them cash. R. Venkatesh Kumar, CEO of Hassan ZP, denied these allegations.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 12:26:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/workforce-boosted-for-ministers-drought-visit/article8553322.ece

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