Corruption rampant in NREGA in Assam Cong Govt: AIUDF

New Delhi: Thanks to systemic corruption and lack of transparency on the part of state Congress government NREGA officials have made NREGA a major source of corruption in Assam, alleged All India United Democratic Front of Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, Lok Sabha Member from Dhubri in Assam and AIUDF chief.
The allegation was made by AIUDF General Secretary and party spokesman Dr Baharul Islam at a consultative meeting held in the Ministry of Rural Development today.

DR. C.P. Joshi, Minister for Rural Development invited representatives of the state political parties today to evolve suitable strategies for more effective implementation of NREGA. The minister sought cooperation of all political parties towards achieving the ultimate objectives and goals of NREGA.
In Phase-I, 200 identified districts were covered under NREGA. Additional 130 districts were covered in Phase-II in 2007-08. The entire rural areas of the country have been covered from April 2008. According to the ministry, out of the total expenditure of Rs.64,363 crore, an amount of Rs.43,875 crore i.e. 68% has been spent on wages. 7.56 crore institutional accounts of workers have been opened encouraging savings among the poor.
Dr Baharul Islam presented before the minister a list of more than 20 formal complaints filed by various people on corruption in NREGA in Assam and which are available on the ministry’s website. But, none of the complaint has been responded to by the state government as per the ministry’s website. During the meeting he presented a few major cases of corruption that were highlighted in the local media. He said that “the systemic corruption that engulfs the state today at all levels has also infected the implementation of the NREGA. Court cases in places like Karimganj and Barpeta have also showed that how officials have bypassed the Panchayati Raj institutions which were intended to play an important role in planning and executing this flagship programme to respond to the local needs of the people.” Specially, the issue of fake job cards, job cards deposited in the custody of implementing officials or political party middlemen, delayed payment are being used for nefarious purpose of minting money illegally, he alleged.
Dr Baharul Islam further referred to the recent study done by Rajya Sabha MP and former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Bimal Jalan, that highlighted that the official estimates of wages realized by workers are in fact inflated because the actual wages received by workers were much less than what is shown in the official documents. Cases of corruption, fudging in muster rolls, discrepancies in work days and payments have been reported in almost all studies, the study said. “Fraudulent payments and anomalies such as extraction of money have also been reported in (wage) payments through (bank, post-office and other) accounts. States including Assam, in fact, saw reduction in employment generation under NREGA as compared to SGRY,” the study found.
The Rural Minister assured AIUDF that some corrective steps will be taken by the Ministry to stop corruption in NREGA implementation in Assam and there will be a group of prominent persons who will visit NREGA works and submit reports to the Ministry for necessary action.
The meeting was attended by various other political party leaders like Sri Ajit Sing (ALD), Babulal Marandi (JVM), Sri TM Basheer (KULML) besides the Minister of state Pradeep Jain and other senior Ministry officials.