However, a study carried out by Delhi-based Centre
for Environment and Food Security (CEFS) gives a totally different and
dismal picture of the performance of the NREGS in MP. The following
findings of our study reveal the ground reality and actual performance
of the NREGS in Madhya Pradesh.
During first 10 months of 2007-8(April 2007-January
2008), the sample households have got only 10.61 days of average
employment and just 2.36 percent of the sample households have
got 100 days of wage employment. It is shocking to note that 65.39
percent of the sample households have not received even a single day of
employment during the year ( April 2007-January 2008) . Moreover, 38.49
percent of the sample households have never got any employment under
Our study suggests that actually not more than 16
days of average employment was given to the needy households during
2007-8. When we compare the Government figures with the figures of CEFS
survey, we get the true picture of the NREGS in MP. According to CEFS
survey, during first 10 months of 2007-8, the sample households in MP
were given only 10.61 days of average employment. So, the average
employment during 12 months of the financial year 2007-8 comes to
about 13 days. Even if we add 3 days more on account of margin of error,
the average employment figure for the year comes to only 16 days.
Therefore, the average employment figure of 63 days claimed by the
Government of MP is about 4 times more than the CEFS figure of 16 days.
This difference arises because all the facts and
figures given by the Government of Madhya Pradesh are apparently based
on faked job entries in the job cards and muster rolls of the state.
Only about one-fourth (25 percent) of the job figures are actual and
the remaining three-fourth (75 percent) of the job figures are based on
faked job entries in job cards and muster rolls of the state . So,
it is obvious that only about 25 percent of the NREGS funds have
actually reached intended beneficiaries and the remaining about 75
percent of the NREGS funds in Madhya Pradesh have been siphoned off
and sucked by the “black-holes” of the prevailing Percentage Raj . To
put this in figure, of a total amount of Rs.2,891 crore spent on NREGS
during 2007-8 , about Rs 2,100 crore has apparently been siphoned off
and misappropriated by executing officials of the implementing
agencies. We found irregularities as the only regular thing in the NREGS
of Madhya Pradesh .
This open loot of the NREGS funds in Madhya Pradesh
has been truly participatory. A certain percentage of the booty has
gone at every level of sanctioning and executing authority starting
from the district to block to Grampanchayat. The percentage varies from
district to district , block to block and Grampanchayat to Grampanchayat.
But this participatory loot is very well organized and
institutionalized . There may be isolated cases of certain honest
officials not taking any percentage from this loot , however, it is
absolutely impossible that even a single district, block or
Grampanchayat level functionary is unaware about the shocking ,
outrageous and scandalous scale of the prevailing percentage raj in the
NREGS of Madhya Pradesh .
We were told by many Sarpanches, Panchayat
Secretaries and local activists that the NREGS projects are sanctioned
and funds released by concerned authorities only after they receive
their pound of flesh (a certain percentage of money from project
fund) in advance . Unless a Sarpanch or Panchayat Secretary is able
to make advance payments of percentage money to various senior
officials , the NREGS funds are not released. Many Panchayat
functionaries on condition of anonymity narrated their harrowing
experiences of the prevailing percentage raj in the NREGS. One Sarpanch
of Chattarpur district told us that 3 NREGS projects were sanctioned for
his Grampanchayat but funds were not being released because he did not
have sufficient money to make percentage payments in advance.
We saw innumerable tree plantation projects
executed under NREGS without a single surviving sapling or plant . You
can see hundreds of miles of tree-guards on either side of roads without
a single plant or sapling inside them. We also came across many ghost
NREGS projects. We saw job entries and project entries on job cards
without any project of that name ever executed in the village. We also
saw many already existing roads , ponds and tanks converted and shown
as fresh NREGS projects with just nominal earth work or minor
modifications. You can see muster rolls with 60-100 days’ of faked
job entries in the name of government servants and their family
members, dead persons, prosperous families , businessmen, teachers ,
army soldiers and also in the name of family members of journalists .
You can see thousands of Grampanchayats in MP where
big NREGS projects with costs ranging from Rs. 25 lakh to Rs. 1 crore
have been executed by the line agencies like RES (rural engineering
services) and Irrigation Department. Local activists told us that
bigger the project cost higher the level of corruption . Moreover ,
since most of the big cost projects are executed directly by line
agencies like RES, there is hardly any one who could really monitor or
question any thing about these projects. Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs)
have no role in the implementation and monitoring of big projects
executed by line agencies . Most of these big projects engage
contractors in one form or the other and use labour-displacing
/cost-saving heavy machinery . These big projects completely negate
the spirit and objectives of NREGS . The big NREGS projects
executed by the line agencies are more of income guarantee schemes
for urbane engineers and very less of employment guarantee schemes for
the rural poor.
Line Agencies : Main architects of NREGS scam
What is the modus operandi of the great job robbery
in Madhya Pradesh ?
First, the officials give hugely inflated cost
estimates of the NREGS projects , in many cases 2 times more than the
actual cost .
Second, most works in the projects executed by line
agencies like RES have been done by banned heavy machines like dumpers
and JCBs and very few labourers have been engaged in these projects .
This brings down the labour cost to less than one third. Is NREGS
employment guarantee scheme for dumpers and JCBs or employment guarantee
scheme for poor labourers ?
Third, since the line agency has to mandatorily show
60 percent of the project expenditure on account of wage employment
to labourers , this forged employment is shown through faked job
entries on job cards and muster rolls .
Fourth, shoddy quality of work has been done with
very poor quality of material used in the projects ; inflated bills
and forged vouchers being an essential part of the game .
Fifth , complete secrecy of the project related
documents and non-sharing of the project related information with
the PRIs, civil society groups or citizens . The RES cares two hoots
about the RTI (Right to Infotrmation Act). It blocks information at
every level, being well aware that its game plan might be exposed if
all project related documents are put in public domain . There is
hardly any information about these projects posted on the NREGA website
. Most online job cards are blank . So much in the name of
transparency and public scrutiny !
Nine months of our intensive research and
investigation on the implementation of the NREGS in Madhya Pradesh has
led us to conclude that there has been not only very high level of
financial bungling and various irregularities in the projects executed
by line agencies like RES, but also that very little actual wage
employment has been given to labourers and most works have been done
by heavy machines like JCBs and dumpers. Transparency safeguards in
these projects are absolutely non-existent . If an independent
enquiry is conducted on all the NREGS projects executed by the line
agencies like RES, a huge NREGS scam would come to the fore . We firmly
believe that the moment RES makes public all the job related
documents , most officials of the RES would immediately go behind the
bars. Unfortunately, they are unlikely to make public the actual
documents because they are acutely aware about the fatal implications of
this disclosure. But where is social audit and other transparency
safeguards of the NREGS ? The Government of Madhya Pradesh owes an
explanation to the nation.
Hunger , poverty and distress migration
The level of hunger , poverty and human deprivation
in the sample districts ( Shivpuri,Chhattarpur,Tikamgarh, Dhar and
Jhabua) is comparable to only KBK (Kalahandi-Bolangir -Koraput) region
of Orissa. Last year , CEFS had carried out a similar study in the KBK
region of Orissa and found that about 70-75 percent of the NREGS funds
in Orissa were siphoned off by sarkari babus while most population of
the region is living a life of semi-starvation and extreme poverty.
The living condition of the people in sample villages of MP is almost
similar to that of KBK people .
The level of poverty and deprivation , especially
in 3 Bundelkhand districts-Shivpuri,Chhattarpur and Tikamgarh , is
dehumanizing and unconscionable . We found large number of families,
especially adivasis in Tikamgarh, Shivpuri and Chhattarpur , literally
surviving by eating chapattis made of wild grass like
jathara . Many adivasi families brought out from their homes and
showed us these wild foods . Where is emerging India and its 9percent
of GDP growth ? We owe an explanation to our starving compatriots .
The current level of hunger, poverty and deprivation
in MP’s rural areas is as deep, demeaning and dehumanising as ever
despite the so- called successful implementation of the NREGS with the
highest expenditure of funds (Rs 2891 crore) anywhere in the country.
The Rural Employment Scheme has made virtually zero impact on the
livelihood security of MP’s rural poor.There is no let up in the level
of distress migration of adivasis and dalits from MP’s Bundelkhand
region in search of livelihood in other parts of the country. Hunger and
abject poverty are widespread in all the 125 sample villages we
visited. Large number of children in these villages are suffering from
severe malnutrition. Hunger and abject poverty are apparent and writ
large on the hollowed cheeks, sunken eyes and distended bellies of the
Most dalit and adivasi families of 3 sample
districts of Bundelkhand are living a life of chronic hunger and
semi-starvation .The prevailing drought has only exacerbated the
livelihood crises in Bundelkhand region . Most traditional sources of
water (old tanks , open wells and hand pumps ) had dried up, cattle
were dying, agricultural fields were barren and villages looked
deserted due to out-migration of labourers.