Thu. May 23rd, 2024

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The committee said there were complaints about difficulties being faced by MGNREGA workers in logging their attendance on the NMMS app. (Image: Shutterstock/File)

The committee said there were complaints about difficulties being faced by MGNREGA workers in logging their attendance on the NMMS app. (Image: Shutterstock/File)

The parliamentary standing committee headed by DMK MP Kanimozhi raised concerns that the benefits of the flagship scheme were not reaching its intended target, the marginalised workers

A parliamentary standing committee headed by DMK MP Kamimozhi said the central government’s action-taken replies to recommendations to better implement the MGNREGS, were “stereotypical” and “evasive”. It raised concerns that the benefits of the flagship scheme were not reaching its intended target, the marginalised workers.

In its report tabled in parliament on Thursday, the committee on rural development said, “Taking stock of the situation, the committee finds such reply of the department of rural development (DoRD) extremely stereotypical and routine in nature. The department of rural development neither provided concrete reply to the query of the committee as to how it arrived at the calculation of Rs 98,000 crore as the BE for MGNREGA at the proposed demand stage, nor it is able to put forward any concrete mode of action to deal with the probable dearth of funds under MGNREGA at this point of time.”

The report stated that the committee is not satisfied with the approach elicited by the DoRD in handling an issue of such importance, which could hamper the work under the scheme due to fund shortage.

“Such a scenario will not augur well for the poor rural workers under MGNREGA as a need for funds could stall the projects creating pendency of wages etc,” it said.

The report also highlighted the massive pendency in the liability of wages. Taking due cognizance of the pendency in the liability of wages and material share of the Centre under MGNREGA, the committee had observed that as on January 1, Rs 6,231 crore in wages and Rs 7,616 crore in material component was pending liability on the Centre’s part.

“However, to the utter surprise of the committee, the reply furnished by the DoRD is completely silent and no specific information regarding the progress made by the department in the reduction of pending liabilities has been furnished in the action taken reply as sought by the committee. Instead of elaborating upon the real cause and remedy to the problem, the effort solely seems to ‘pass the buck’ on the state as it has been submitted that ‘after the due financial prudence and compliance by the state, funds are released’. The committee finds such reply evasive in nature and may lead to lopsided implementation of MGNREGA,” it stated.

The committee also said it noted the introduction of the National Mobile Monitoring System (NMMS) app aimed at capturing two time-stamped and geotagged photographs of MGNREGA workers in a day. It was understood that through the introduction of a new attendance system, the government wanted to usher in increased transparency but the committee found that the actual success of this app depended upon availability of smartphones, proper internet connectivity and mandatory presence of MGNREGA workers at both times, to name a few.

“Despite the submissions of the DoRD regarding the effectiveness of this app, the committee is concerned to note the complaints from various quarters highlighting numerous difficulties being faced by MGNREGA workers in making their attendance on this app,” the report stated.

Social activist Nikhil Dey, who works closely with MGNREGS workers to uphold their rights, said the responses given by the government are purely negative in nature.

“The budget cut under the scheme and the pending wages together mean that it’s the worker who has been further marginalised by not being paid for the work he or she has done. Besides the mandatory use of the NMMS app, the government must provide figures as to how much corruption has been cut down through its use and how it has benefited workers if at all,” Dey said.

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