Fake muster roles of 100 days for MGNREGS job card holders – Study findings generated actions
Singrauli is one of the farthest and remote districts, close to the UP border, is a highly feudal and underdeveloped district of MP. It is well known for coal mines and thermal power production units. The district is a contrast of industrial development with extreme poverty. The district has predominantly tribal population with high migration and known for multiple displacements of families due to mining activities.
Right to Employment Act guarantees 100 days of employment to any rural family. The study was undertaken to assess the impact of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) on the poor families taking sample of those who completed 100 days of work. It was found that in Chitrangi block of Singarauli district, in 33 village Panchayats about 500 families got 100 days employment and in 78 Panchayats, no family could complete 100 days of employment. In three villages of Karthua Panchayat, as high as 134 families had completed 100 days of work in FY 2014-15. A sample of 25 families was covered for personal interactions and data collection.
The most striking finding of the field survey was that none of the MGNREGS worker had worked on site. All the MGNREGS works were done using machines. The woman Sarpanch lives in a different town and her husband who is a school teacher has managed it. The money has been siphoned off in connivance with the bank and concerned block officials. The workers were quite annoyed and agitated for the denial of their right to employment.
Samarthan team submitted the report of the study with evidences to the Collector of Sigrauli in the beginning of November, 2014 apprising him the issues and concerned persons involved in the matter. A very responsive District Collector designated a team under the leadership of the concerned Sub Divisional Magistrate within 2 days and 15 MGNREGS works of the village were verified. The investigation team found gross violation of the Act and misappropriation of funds in the tune of 12 Lakh. A First Information Report (FIR) was registered against the Sarpanch, Secretary, Rojgar Sahayak, Junior and Assistant Engineers and the Branch Manager of the co-operative bank and Jiyawan Police station issued arrest warrant for them. The culprits are absconding and applied for bail in the local court, which was rejected. They have filed applications in the High Court.
The culprits are quite influential, having political connections and money and muscle power. How far the administration will be able to withstand the pressure? In order to mount people’s pressure on the administration, about 200 workers gathered on 5 December at Collector’s office to protest against delayed arrest of the culprit and tactics applied for not providing copy of the FIR. They also demanded that there is a need for large scale social audits in the complete block.
Suitable strong actions on the culprits will strengthen the accountability mechanisms for the effective implementation of the MGNREGS in the interest of the poor rural households.
-Article by Dr. Yogesh Kumar