Disappointing performance of Rural Dev.Deptt

State Rural Department has of late been in ‘limelight’ for various omissions and commissions without any perceptible change in its functioning and no one seemingly is concerned to have its way of functioning improved and performance toned up. Instead of coming up with enviable report card of its achievements and working conduct, as on date a whopping liability of over Rs.448 crore is piled up as it has not been in a position to make payments of wages to the labour class nor has it cleared the bills of various items of material used in developmental projects during the last four years. The state of affairs of this Department in respect of its performance in ten districts of Jammu division is far from satisfactory. In other words, its performance shows a comparative decline of as much as by 50 percent in many blocks on perusal of the findings at the end of the last financial year. The works related to MGNREGA are , thus suffering due to inordinately delayed wages payment. The directives from the Union Ministry of Rural Development to pay wages to the workers within a maximum period of 14 days are conspicuously violated.
Peeping a bit still deep into the nuances of the Department’s indebtedness, the same could go up to over Rs.700 crores if the liability component in Kashmir was added into that of pertaining to Jammu region, though it is little less in Kashmir in comparison. The level of state of affairs being messy to what levels in the Department can be gauged by the fact that many agencies , firms and private parties as also the representatives of the labour class are reportedly visiting the office regularly to impress upon the concerned authorities to clear their bills and make payments. That there could be resentment, indignation and resultant protests from the labour class and the mass support in their favour from the village heads, Panchs etc can neither be ruled out nor termed unjustified. The fate, the quality and the status of the works initiated across the State under MGNREGA in the rural blocks and Panchayats can better be visualised only to feel concerned about. We would like to ask the hierarchy of this department, as also the top administrative authorities under whose auspices the Department functions as to how, in most of the cases, wages payment are permitted to be withheld for three to four years in a row when the very basis of starting and promoting MGNREGA is to provide employment per rural household for 150 days and thus support them financially?
At least, performance in MGNREGA should have remained static if not improved upon those of last year’s figures but during the last financial year, it has registered quite dismal figures of performance showing a comparative decline of 50 percent, most of the blocks in Udhampur, Samba, Jammu and Kathua districts with abysmally low performance . Are funds’ non availability any problem ? Is the concerned ministry of the Central Government not sending sufficient funds? Are those funds received in adequate amount remaining unspent? The fact of the matter is that the GoI has been regularly sending to the state, adequate funds primarily with focus on regularly keeping clearing the wage liability component plus meeting other expenses . It has been confirmed by the State Government even on the floor of the Assembly , then where is the lacunae – is the moot question which must be found out by means of a proper probe. In the meantime, the Department must focus on clearing its wage indebtedness on priority followed by taking such corrective steps in the functioning and the system to lend credence to the very name “Rural Development Department “.