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NREGA Scheme-A boon or bane;

I recently went through a news report on the Economic Times about the NREGA programme. An excerpt from the news report says

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that the money earmarked for the project was not percolating down to the intended beneficiaries.

“There is no uniform policy. The money is not reaching actual beneficiaries”, said a bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justice Deepak Verma and Justice B S Chauhan. The court also said that several projects under the scheme were failing as the funds allocated either remain unutilised or in many cases money end up in wrong hands.

“There has been distribution of money. But in many cases, it is going to wrong persons and real beneficiaries do not receive cash,” the court said.

The provision of unemployment allowance is part and parcel of NREGA but most state governments are denying it on one or the other pretext,” he said adding there was inordinate delay in the payment of wages and due compensation is not being paid. The PIL, filed in 2007, alleged the project, which was implemented in September 2005 with a view to providing 100 days of guaranteed employment to at least one member of each rural household, suffers from large scale corruption and mismanagement.


NREGA-implemented

Image Source: http://www.topnews.in/files/NREGA-implemented.JPG

The PROBLEM

Most of the government programs like NREGA when actually planned, are very good plans on paper.The government gets a 360 degree perspective from relevant people for a given project. But unfortunately most of these programs remain very good only on paper. When it comes to execution most of them fail and the NREGA scheme is one of them. Like any other government scheme , NREGA functions through a Public Distribution System like the usual ration shop. In that case, loopholes become a part and parcel of the whole execution process.The Beneficiaries are only a very few people.

The NREGA scheme wants to provide 100 days of guaranteed employment to each rural household. Lets have a look at how the whole execution system functions. Firstly , a local contractor decides on doing a public project say a school or hospital in the village. Once he makes the project plan he files it for approval under the NREGA scheme and gets funds sanctioned say for about 1oo labourers for a period of three months. He gets Rs.60 per day per person on the approval of his project. Now at this stage, there is no exercise at this stage to ensure whether the project is happening or whether the whole project is a dummy one. Most of the times, the project would end up being on paper and the contractor benefiting from this money.

Simultaneously, the contractor has to make sure the labourers dont make an issue out of it. So he identifies a few loud ones and silences them by giving them daily labor for doing no work. As we know , the weaker ones never get to voice out their opinion and they suffer.To some extent, we can even say they villagers or local labourers lack awareness.Their perception unfortunately is always short term gains.

The SOLUTION according to my opinion

Firstly , I think the social audit system should be completely transparent by a third party auditing firm and even the supreme court in this report says

the entire proceedings of the Social Audit Forum/public hearing be videographed to ensure integrity and credibility of the process.

Secondly, the number of beneficiaries in the chain of execution of the program should be increased so that no one beneficiary will be able to consume a huge margin of money illegally.

Last but not the least, The best solution for this is that the government should take the assistance of a   local university. This means the local university adopts the village, students and professors of the university involve themselves in the execution of the project.By doing so, not only will the students get to do a live project but also they would be able to do the execution themselves and report flaws to the centre. This might make the execution smoother and more credible.

What do you think is the solution according to your opinion?

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