NREGS fails in Kalahandi

December 20, 2009 at 5:13 pm Leave a comment

Following is a report from expressbuzz.com:

In a setback to NREGS in Kalahandi district, Rural Development Department has asked the district administration to return Rs 20 crore under the scheme for utilisation elsewhere. The department took the decision after it found that a major chunk of the funds under scheme remained unutilised.

 The development has put a question mark over the functioning of the scheme in a district where a majority of the population is going without regular employment. Non-utilisation of allotted funds is a regular feature since the launch of the scheme in the district in 2006.

According to reports, during 2008-2009 there was an opening balance of Rs 22.82 crore carried over from the previous year’s unspent amount. A fresh allotment of Rs 50.03 crore was made at the fag end of the financial year. Out of the total available funds, only Rs 28.87 crore could be spent and balance was carried over to current financial year. This year no fresh allotment was made.

Ironically as of now, only Rs 7.58 crore could be spent which is only 15 per cent of the available fund. This has generated only nine per cent of the targeted mandays. Against the employment budget of 36,72,297 mandays, only 3,25,863 mandays have been generated till now, according to available data. This is despite the guidelines that at least 60 per cent of funds should be utilised, including the opening balance. Against this background, 60 per cent utilisation by end of this financial year is a remote possibility. Taking this into account, the Rural Development Department asked the district administration to return Rs 20 crore, said an official.

This sorry state of affairs is attributed to lack of sincerity among implementing agencies and panchayat raj institutions (PRIs), lack of awareness among the beneficiaries, erratic preparation of labour budgets and dearth of technical hands. Sources said eight out of 14 sanctioned posts of assistant engineer and 13 out of 26 sanctioned posts of junior engineer in the district are lying vacant. In many cases one junior engineer is supervising work in six or seven gram panchayats.

With the over-burdened workload, it is difficult on the part of junior and assistant engineers to properly supervise and implement the works under the scheme, said a PRI representative.

Sources also said the progress of the scheme is tardy due to lack of interest among officials at gram panchayat level. Most of the beneficiaries are also not aware of different provisions of the NREGA – how to demand work, how to get timely payment and how to get unemployment allowance in the event of non-availability of work despite demand.

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Entry filed under: Kalahandi, Region watch.

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