Schemes under scanner

Everything is believed to be not in order with Rural Development Department. A few weeks back, through these very columns, we had apprised the readers about the fate of the information sought under the RTI from the Rural Development Department. We had also brought home to the concerned authorities that State Information Commission had found that Rural Development Department was totally inimical to the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act with intent to obliterate the transparency and accountability in its functioning. Works executed during 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17 by and on behalf of the Department are sought to be wrapped under the shroud of mystery as details sought under the RTI are seldom divulged.
Having said so, after raping the RDD by the State Information Commission (SIC), State Accountability Commission has put a big conundrum on the implementation of Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) worth around Rs. 1800 crore. These schemes are Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojna, Gramin (PMAYG), Swachh Bharat Mission,Gramin (SBMG),National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) etc. It is observed that no mechanism worth the name, is in place to constantly monitor the progress of works under these schemes. The Commission, after perusing various angles of the implementation of these prestigious schemes, has sought clarification on seven main points backed by the proof from the Commissioner/ Secretary of the Rural Development Department. It has given a reasonably sufficient time of four weeks to the department after the expiry of which further orders are likely to be passed.
The top hierarchy of the department chose to depute Additional Secretary before the Commission who “explained” scheme wise particulars to it but the Commission did not find itself inclined to agree as the claims were not backed by actual physical verification of the work done under these schemes. Information provided was found short of requirement or what precisely was asked to be submitted.
Questions arise whether funds have actually been spent on the concerned schemes? Whether works were actually executed on the ground? Have surveys been conducted to identify the prospective beneficiaries? What are the details of money spent on individual schemes? The main area requiring special attention is the job card issuance, how many job cards were issued and proportionate payments made direct into their bank accounts.
The other very relevant questions raised by the Commission related to furnishing of proof of the demand made under MGNREGA Schemeby the beneficiaries from different areas of the State. Whether any supervisory / monitoring mechanism was set up by the Rural Development Department to conduct any physical verification of the works under the schemes?  State Accountability Commission has very importantly asked for the particulars of the supervisory mechanism, list of ombudsmen appointed in 22 districts with all their particulars  etc.
Reports about non implementation of these Centrally Sponsored Schemes or the doubtful and shoddy manner of utilization in the State,have not remained confined to the RDD only but travelled widely. The Government, as such, has had to face predicament at the hands of the State Accountability Commission.
Let it be plainly spoken that a feeling among the people is that the officers manning the RDD have more to hide than reveal as regards the honest implementation of the six schemes under reference. Rural development is the goal of such schemes, not of those “in person” supposed to run and make them truly successful on the ground. Let the mist be cleared and full details backed by relevant supportive evidence submitted before expiry of the breather of four weeks granted by the SAC.