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Backward districts clueless on potential of MNREGA

Special Correspondent



Minister Jagadish Shettar at a workshop on rural development organised by the Directorate of Field Publicity at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Bangalore on Tuesday, with DAVP Director-General A.P. Frank Noronha, MLA Roshan Baig and Mary James of Nava Jeevan, an NGO.

Bangalore: There is no dearth of funds under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), but Karnataka's record of utilising these funds has been poor, especially in backward districts such as Gulbarga. Of the Rs. 150 crore allocated for the district under the scheme, only Rs. 50 crore has been utilised. The fund usage is also not up to the mark in Bidar and Davangere districts, said M. Nagendra Swamy, Director, Directorate of Field Publicity for Karnataka.

“The unutilised funds will not be available if it is unused by March,” said Mr. Swamy, speaking at a workshop on rural development organised by the Directorate of Field Publicity, focussing on the MNREGA, the National Rural Drinking Water Programme and the Total Sanitation Campaign. Using up at least 60 per cent of the funds allocated for MNREGA is essential for the next instalment of funds to be released, he added.

“There is a lot of potential under the scheme since a large chunk of funding to any gram panchayat comes from the MNREGA, but there is a lack of awareness of this in several districts,” said Mr. Swamy, and added that Rs. 1,700 crore had been allocated for the scheme in Karnataka. The directorate is conducting workshops in Bidar, Chitradurga, Davangere, Gulbarga and Raichur on creating awareness about the scheme.

Bogus job cards

Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Jagadish Shettar said the Government had appointed ombudsmen in 15 districts who would monitor the scheme. Out of 62 lakh job cards, 12 lakh were found to be bogus. Cases were booked against 402 officials for malpractices under the MNREGA. While 337 had been suspended, 102 criminal cases had been booked.

Panchayat Development Officers had been appointed in 2,500 gram panchayats and there were still more to be appointed, said Mr. Shettar

On the sanitation programme, he said 34 lakh toilets had been built as against the target of 58 lakh to be met in the next two years.

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