MGNREGA ombudsman gets 115 complaints in 3 years

Rs 21.11 lakh recovered; Rs 77,000 collected from officials as fine

Ombudsman for Dakshina Kannada district for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act has received 115 complaints from 57 gram panchayats, on the loopholes in the implementation of MGNREGS, since August 2010.

About 114 cases have been settled. A case related to the scheme at Kuppepadavu which was referred by the government to the Ombudsman recently to probe is in progress. In 114 cases, about Rs 21,11,304 has been recovered and has been deposited in the State treasury.

The Ombudsman has imposed a fine of 77,000  in 57 cases from the officials who were responsible for the misuse of funds. He has ordered for departmental inquiry in five cases.

The Ombudsman has received 37 cases in 2010-11, 51 cases in 2011-12, 22 cases in 2012-13 and five cases in 2013 till date.

As per the available reports, 16 Gram Panchayat secretaries, 38 PDOs, 20 taluk-level officials and two gram panchayat employees and one gram panchayat member were found violating the guidelines related to MGNREGA.

Out of 114 complaints, about 51 were related to delay in payment of wages, 11 on misappropriation of funds, 26 related to illegality, 15 cases were on denial of employment, one was on denial of application for employment, one was on denial of employment card, two related to action plan, two cases were related to illegality in issuing employment cards, two were on violation of rules and so on.

When the Act was implemented in DK, many believed that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) will not work in Dakshina Kannada district. But over the years, many families have been benefited from the scheme and have been improving their livelihood by developing their land holdings and also taking up public work like planting fruit bearing saplings in anganwadi, school premises, construction of drains, taking up afforestation programmes, said Ombudsman Sheena Shetty to Deccan Herald.

Difference

However, the way Ombudsman was dealing with the complaint was different. Instead of just slapping fine on the offenders, he along with his team comprising NGO representative Krishna Moolya and technical officer Sanjeeva Naik used to solve the cases amidst villagers. This helped in creating awareness on Ombudsman institution as well as on the Act.

During the inquiry, the person who has committed mistake was asked to take an oath by
touching Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography. Normally, during the inquiry, all the offenders were convinced of their mistake and were admitting their mistakes. In fact, in majority of the cases, they used to pay back the first installment of the money which they had misappropriated even before the ordering for recovery.

With his intervention, gram panchayats like Markanja and Niddle, where a lot of misappropriation had taken place have initiated development work and have become model in the district. Utilising the funds under MGNREGA, Markanja had planted 1000 fruit-bearing saplings beside roads and also took up the work on storm water drains. Kashipattana gram panchayat has taken up the work on over 200 wells to mitigate drinking water problem. A few gram panchayat officials have also pledged before the Ombudsman that they will not indulge in any corruption.

Shetty said that utilising the funds available under MGNREGS, anganwadi and its garden was developed in Bannur gram panchayat limits. To motivate the gram panchayat authorities to hold Employment Guarantee Day every week, as per the guidelines of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Madari Grama Vikasa Kendra (Model Village Development Centre), Jana Shikshana Trust, Gram panchayat and other organisations have been organising Labour Day, at Madari Vikasa Kendras every month for the last four months. The term of the Ombudsman will end on July 31.

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