The Government of India flagship programme Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme (in short, NREGS) has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. With the panchayat election coming up, several complaints on gross misappropriation of NREGS funds by the Pradhans, members of Panchayat and Zilla Parishad in collusion with concerned officials have come out in the open. Yet the upcoming Panchayat elections will remain the costliest ever, with candidates making huge expenses in trying to win over voters. The complaints had come in the forms of press releases, press conferences and court cases. However one of the notable exposures has been through the use of Right to Information Act (RTI) by rural women. Macha Leima is an organisation actively working for empowerment of rural women through the use of the Right to Information Act (RTI). And it has been persistently pursuing the denial of facilities, provided through different schemes under the National Flagship programmes, to the rural people by elected representatives. Every year the government of India sanctions crores of rupees for the rural areas through different schemes like the NREGS and Indira Awas Yojana. Tamenglong district was among the first to be included in the selected 200 districts across the country when the first phase of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme was launched for the first time in 2006. By April 2008, all the districts of the State were covered by the scheme. The scheme has been renamed Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme since October 2010. But as it turned out, only 15 percent of the allocated funds reaches the rural people while the rest is being swindled by politicians and employees of the concerned department which had come out in the open through RTI queries. There are still hundreds of ignorant people whose job cards and pass books had been withheld by the Zilla Parishad members, Pradhans and Ward members. By withholding the job cards and the pass books the elected representatives takes out the money meant for the beneficiaries by forging signatures. Yet, the inbuilt mechanism of check and balance in the scheme and that of social audit could be easily circumvented by these representatives in collusion with the officials. On the other hand, threats and intimidation by use of even criminal elements thwart the efforts of those who try to raise voices against such misappropriation of funds. And, the police conveniently looked the other way, even when there were complaints against the erring representatives and the officials. State documents claimed that, Manipur is one of the states which have successfully implemented the NREGS and it tops among other states of the country. One remembers the on-site visit of the Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh when he took a dig at the figures presented by state with a comment that “It is too good to be true.” He had assured the state that he will be sending an independent team to assess the real achievements in the state. So, what has it achieved? One of the major achievements of NREGS is that it has successfully killed the work culture in the rural areas of the valley and hill areas of state. Before the advent of NREGS, there was a work culture based on hard work and better yields. Sadly it has now been transformed into a ‘work culture’ where you get wages even if you do not work at all (if you are willing to pay a sizeable percentage to the local representatives). Another major achievement has been that, through devolution of powers the flagship programme schemes has successfully created a new class of corrupt representatives at the village and regional level, which is why we have been seeing huge election related expenditure in the ensuing Panchayat elections. The NREGs has become a honeycomb for the newly emerging grassroots leaders. In short, the time has come for a complete rethink on the implementation of the scheme.
Photography Credit and Copyright: Rashingam Ngoruh Siroi hills/ Shirui hills ranges in the Ukhrul District of Manipur, India, at an elevation of 1730m–2590m above sea level. Picture speaks itself the beauty of the Siroy Hill
Kankhui Cave – Sculpted by Nature – Ukhrul Manipur Photography Copyright: Rashingam Ngoruh Khangkhui Cave is a remarkable natural lime- stone cave located at Ukhrul, Manipur, India. The big hall in the cave is the darbar hall of the Devil … Continue reading
Unique Manipur Yaoshang Sports – Bor Keina Competition – 2013 Photography and Credit: Loyangamba Khundongbam All types of sports are held during Yaoshang Sports meet at Manipur or different parts of the world for women, men and children namely Chaphu … Continue reading
View of Manipur Valley during evening time Photography Credit and Copyright: Moirangthem Ranjit This is the valley where we live. Surrounded on all sides by mountains and hills, once upon a time, this valley was submerged underwater. All waters were … Continue reading
Manipuri Meitei Association Bangalore – Yaoshang Sports Meet – 2013 – Bangalore The Annual Yaoshang Sports Meet, 2013 at Bangalore organized by Manipuri Meitei Association Bangalore was held on Sunday, 24 March at Country Club Lakeside, Attibele Hobli. 350 plus … Continue reading