NREGA: Officials taking unemployed for a ride?

Various methods are in place at the Gram Panchayat level to hush up their failures

Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha (KPRS) General Secretary Yadav Shetty informed Deccan Herald that since distribution of unemployment allowance means ‘failure of the local governing body’ in implementation of Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGREGS), various methods are in place at the GP level to hush up their failures.

“When the GPs enroll people for the scheme, they do not take Form 6. The Form 6 stands for request of the family for job and only those who request for jobs under Form 6 are entitled to get unemployment allowance. If there is no job request, there is no question of giving unemployment allowance,” Shetty alleges and adds that in many Gram Panchayats, there are several families whose job cards do not have a mention about date of issue. If at all families make hue and cry about not receiving employment within said period and consequently the unemployment allowance, officials can always get away by saying that the job card was issued just a few days ago.

While lack of awareness on unemployment allowance could be the reason behind people not claiming the same, officials say that nobody has been given unemployment allowance so far because nobody has claimed for the same. They say that though Form 6 is not compulsory, people can even give the request in ‘writing’ on a plain sheet of paper.

Highly placed sources in ZP itself say that one more possibility for avoiding payment of the allowance could be the fact that the State had said that GP Secretaries would have to pay the allowance from their own pockets as it is their failure.

It is startling that as on November 17, out of 61,463 families who had been given job cards, only 9,596 demanded job. Zilla Panchayat CEO Shivshankar said that there are some technical hitches in the MGREGS website due to which any works undertaken, which does not have the expenditure mentioned, goes to ‘unemployment due’ column by default. According to the official records, there are unemployment allowance due for 3,100 man days in the district but at the sametime, even sources in the ZP are not clear as to how many are eligible to get the allowance apart from the fact that not even one has demanded the same so far.
Shivshankar says that for any work, estimation for 100 days is done at Rs 82 per day. On field, the workers are paid more than Rs 82 per day depending on quantity of work and hence the said Rs 8,200 gets over within 60 to 65 days. In such a case, the left over period, which has no mention of the expenditure, falls into unemployment allowance due column automatically.

He says that though there are lacunae in working at the GP level, the ZP has taken several steps to avert many lapses by holding surpise visits, inspections and warning GP secretaries to implement the scheme effetively. However, if there are shortcomings of this sorts, the NGOs and farmers organisations must bring such individual cases to the notice of the ZP first so that stern action can be taken in this direction and the loop holes could be cleared, Shivashankar said.

NREGS website statistics as on date
* Registered families: 63,675
* Job cards issued: 61,463
* Jobs demanded: 9,596
* Jobs received: 9541

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