Report by Badal Tah; Rayagada: Finance Minister of GOI Niramala Sitaraman segregated the Rs.20 lakhs crores package declared by Modi and announced Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme(MGNREGS) as priority number one amongst seven sectoral schemes. Rs.61000 crores were allocated to provide jobs to the migrant labourers who lost jobs and returned to their home states.
According to a crude estimate, around 20000 labourers of Rayagada district have already returned back through various means of transport and long walk. As these labourers are mostly from rural areas, Chief Minister Naveen Pattanaik has also stressed to engage these returnees through MGNREGS. During a recent visit of 5T Secretary Mr V K Pandian to the district, the District Collector appraised him that around 30000 persondays were created under MGNREGS.
But to the utter dismay of denizens of Rayagada, machines have been deployed instead of men as prescribed by MGNREG Act. Taking the advantage of Covid-19 and weak monitoring, some officials have got into corrupt practices in an unscrupulous way. One such incident has taken place in Ramachandrapur Indira Awas Colony near Seiskhal village of same GP under Rayagada block. This place is hardly fifteen kms away from the Rayagada town headquarters and situated beside the NH leading to Andhra Pradesh. A huge pond under MGNREGS is dug with help of a contractor using machines like JCB and tractors without a single manual labourers since last few weeks. Interestingly enough senior bureaucrats like Collector, Sub-Collector, PD-DRDA, SP, BDO, Tehsildar, RTO and other monitoring authorities traverse through this road upto Kerada where the Border Check Post has been established to welcome the migrants entering into Odisha & monitor inter-state movements of vehicles and passers-by.
“Many officers including Collector, who is the District Programme Coordinator(DPC) of MGNREGA, must have noticed the machines doing the work. The reasons of not stopping the work done illegally are best known to them. It seems the contractor is an employee in Rayagada block office and he has been using his brother’s name as a proxy. There is certainly a nexus among the contractor and the govt officials in entrusting a work under MGNREGS, which is mostly labour oriented. If this could happen under the nose of the district headquarters, one can imagine the extent of corruption in the hinterlands of the district. Some corrupt officials are in a hurry to achieve the target. Implementing the decisions of policy makers like PM & CM has thus been a hoax in the district; but there is one and only stark truth in this context: Govt servants are most powerful in violating and twisting the Govt rules ”, said Sri Rabindra Patakhandal, Convenor of Suchana Adhikar Mancha, Rayagada.