Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) was floated by the Union Rural Development Ministry years ago with the important objective of providing means of subsistence to the people in rural India. It has to be remembered that true India lives in her villages. It is not only culturally so but in terms of population, maximum of Indian population is to be found in villages. These have remained backward for various reasons like lack of roads, communication facilities, education, health care, water, power and other civic facilities. Therefore, the programme called MGNREGA, a massive project was devised that would bring about the change in the lives of people in rural India. The scheme has been extended to J&K State also because our villages are not different in terms of economy, social standing and other civil pre-requisites.
Performance of MGNREGA in Jammu and Kashmir came up for discussion in the Performance Review Committee of the Union Rural Development Ministry some days ago and the Committee noted with concern several glaring shortcomings still persisting despite repeated directions for overcoming the same during the past several years. For example, establishing and registering independent social audit unit for social audit of the implementation of flagship scheme had been strongly recommended as part of the instructions of implementing the scheme. However, the Performance Review Committee has pointed out J&K has not established social audit unit despite launch of the scheme several years back and repeated directions from the Ministry in this regard. Again, MGNREGA mandates the expenditure of at least 60 percent in agriculture and allied activities but in the context of Jammu and Kashmir the expenditure on this account is far less than 60 percent. The Committee has also pointed out that J&K doesn’t have independent bank accounts, which otherwise were also mandated under the guidelines of the scheme. In the scheme guidelines, much thrust has been laid for creation of individual assets (Category-B) to support the livelihoods of vulnerable sections like Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, below Poverty Line and small/marginal farmers. But J&K has less than 20 percent of Category-B works in this area which is not only poor performance but more than that. There are numerous other discrepancies brought out by the Performance Committee.
All that one can say is that the State Government must gear up all efforts to see that the flagship project is implemented in letter and in spirit in our state because it provides great relief to the poor and backward villagers in our State. It has to be implemented in accordance of the instructions provided.