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KLS/1T-2.00

The House reassembled after lunch at two of the clock,

MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN in the Chair.

...

MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: Short Duration Discussion. Shri Narayanasamy.

 

SHORT DURATION DISCUSSION ON TARDY IMPLEMENTATION OF RURAL EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE SCHEME

 

SHRI V. NARAYANASAMY (PONDICHERRY): Hon. Mr. Deputy Chairman, Sir, I draw the attention of the hon. Minister to an issue relating to the tardy implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in some of the States of the country. Sir, the National Rural Employments Guarantee Act, 2005 was passed in the Lok Sabha and also in the Rajya Sabha. The hon. Rural Development Minister piloted the Bill. It is a historic Act, which gives employment opportunities to the rural people especially the agricultural labour, artisans who do not have any work, and the people who are living below poverty line. Millions of people in the country will be benefited by this Act. Sir, in this august House I would like to express my gratitude to the hon. Congress President, Shrimati Sonia Gandhi...(Interruptions)...

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.ִֵָ : ֯ ֮ You kindly hear me and then you speak. The hon. Prime Minister, the hon. Minister for Rural Development and also the UPA Chairman were responsible for getting this historic Act passed. When monsoon fails, a lot of people, especially the people belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes and minorities also, who are living in the rural areas, are not getting employment. When monsoon is not there, the agricultural activity is not carried out in the rural areas and people migrate to cities for employment. Sir, we find that in the urban areas they get employment in the construction industry and also in the households. Therefore, a lot of migration is taking place. The Government thought it fit that in order to arrest this kind of migration and also empower the people in the rural areas, they should be given employment opportunity in the rural areas itself. Therefore, this scheme was launched. Sir, this scheme was launched on 2nd February, 2006 in Andhra Pradesh. The hon. Prime Minister, the hon. Congress President, and also the hon. Minister for Rural Development launched the scheme. Initially, 200 districts have been covered. For the year 2006-07, an amount of Rs. 16419 crores has been allocated by the Rural Development Ministry for implementing the scheme in various States. Therefore, Sir, I would like to congratulate the UPA Government for launching this very important scheme in 200 districts of this country. You know pretty well that in Koraput, Kalahandi and Bolangir districts of Orissa the farm labourers were eating roots of the plants if they did not get any employment. That was their livelihood. Now under the new component plan that has been brought out under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, these people are getting assured employment. (Contd by 1U)

-KLS/NBR-NB/1U/2.05.

SHRI V. NARAYANASAMY (CONTD.): Not only these people, but also people in other backward districts of other States are also getting assured employment under this Scheme. It is a welcome step. The Government of India has brought out guidelines for implementation of this Act. Sir, money is given by the Central Government to the States. 90 per cent of the money goes from the Central Government and the remaining 10 per cent is the contribution of the States. And, the State Government is the implementing authority. States have to identify the beneficiaries. After identifying the beneficiaries, they would be given a Job Card and, on the basis of this, employment is assured for any man or woman holding this Card for 100 days in a year. This is assured to them. Sir, in some States, for seven-hour or eight-hour work they are paid Rs. 23. In some States, they are paying Rs. 56. In Andhra Pradesh, they are being paid Rs. 80 per day. So, it varies from State to State. But, Sir, while identifying the beneficiaries, there is a lot of discrimination. Politics is being played in that. Sir, it is a Central Government Scheme. Money is sent by the Central Government. And, only 10 per cent is the contribution of the States. Some States, I don't want to name them, are discriminating. There are big hoardings in the States. They are giving a different name to this Scheme -- the State Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. The Central Government is forgotten. Sir, the Central Government, which is sending the money, is forgotten. The State Governments, being the implementing agency, are giving a wide publicity with the money received from the Central Government! I don't quarrel with that. I want that let the States also say that 90 per cent funds are coming from the Central Government. Let them say this truth to the people of States. I am not telling X, Y or Z. I am telling about all the States. Sir, they are spending 15 per cent of money on publicity alone. Hon. Minister, Sir, 15 per cent of money earmarked for the purpose of advertisement in various areas under the guise of telling the people that this Scheme is being implemented by the State Government for the poorer sections of the society. According to the establishment cost, it is only 2 per cent. Sir, only 2 per cent is the establishment cost for implementing the Scheme. But, unfortunately, more money is being spent on advertisements. And, Sir, there is a pick-and-choose in identifying the beneficiaries. Sir, Gram Panchayats have to be empowered for this. The powers have been given to Gram Panchayats. They have to identify the beneficiaries. But, to my utter surprise, I wish to share some facts with the august House. Sir, I went to some States. I met tribal people in those States. I had also an interaction with them. I am told that States are collecting Rs. 40 for issuing a Job Card, which otherwise has to be given free of cost. The State Government is collecting Rs. 20 from them for photograph and for issuing a Job Card. The poor people are not in a position to pay even this amount. I also found, in some Job Cards, there is no photograph of the beneficiary. How a beneficiary is identified? If this is the case, anybody can take the Job Card of other person and get employment. Sir, with utter surprise, I have even brought it to the notice of the hon. Minister that even Joint Secretary in a State has got a Job Card. His family members have got Job Cards. As per the norm, only one member in a family has to be issued Job Card. But, there are four Job Cards issued to a family. I found in a particular State -- I will name the State later; otherwise, Mr. Venkaiah Naidu will quarrel with me -- when I went there and talked to the people, four members in a family having Job Cards! Was any employment given to them? No. Employment was not given to them. They worked for five days. After three months, they have got job for another four days. It has been going on like this. But, 100 days job was not given to them.

Another surprising factor is that machines should not be used for the purpose of doing any work under this Scheme. What they are doing is this. They are, in connivance with the officials, using machines for the purpose of doing the work and, ultimately, the money is collected as if the work is done manually. (CONTD. BY USY "1W")

NBR-USY/1W/2.10

SHRI V. NARAYANASAMY (CONTD.): This is going on in some States. So, the main object of bringing forward this Act for giving employment to the rural poor is defeated. If a person or a lady works for hundred days in a year, they get eight thousand rupees. And, as far as a rural household is concerned, rupees eight thousand in a year is a big money for them for their subsistence, for their livelihood, keeping in view the number of starvation deaths that are taking place and the poverty that is prevailing there. If you go to the rural areas, you will find that a drought situation is prevailing in the northern and the southern part of the country. The poor people, especially the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, take only one meal a day. They don't have livelihood. They can't educate their children. They are suffering. They don't have foodgrains to celebrate their family functions. So, at least, for their subsistence this scheme was brought. But, I would like to inform the hon. Minister that with the active connivance with the officials, there is an attempt to throttle the scheme in some of the States. These activities are being done to deprive the Central Government, which has brought the scheme, of their credit.

From my personal experience, I found that the State Government took the voters' list, picked up some names, and submitted them to the Central Government for getting ninety per cent funds. In one family, three-four members are getting the job cards. This is a clear violation of the guidelines issued by the Government of India. These guidelines are very clear. It is very clearly mentioned that no machines should be used, it should be manual work; the gram panchayats should identify the beneficiaries; job cards are to be given to the people after due verification; a person who gets a job cards should compulsorily get 100 days' employment, if he is not given employment within fifteen days he should get unemployment allowance. All these things are mentioned in the guidelines. But none of these guidelines are followed. These are being flouted. And, ultimately, the scheme is not implemented in an effective manner. It is a very important scheme because there are millions of poor people in this country. They will be getting advantage of this scheme. When we talked to the poor people, who get sixty-seventy rupees a day, these poor people, mostly the tribal and the scheduled caste people, are very happy. They told us that they were getting some employment in their leave period, when they did not have any work. It is helping them to sustain their families. It is a very laudable and important scheme. But, unfortunately, the funds are being siphoned off. It is being filtered. Officers are misusing it. Sarpanchs are also misusing the funds. Whichever political party is in power, that party selects only those people as beneficiaries who belong to that political party, and not the other people. There should be any party politics in that. It is a poor peoples' problem. I met the hon. Minister several times. I complained him. There were agitations in the States by the political parties also in this regard. The hon. Minister also visited some of the districts to verify the things. When I went to Orissa, where nineteen districts are covered under this scheme, and Madhya Pradesh, where eighteen districts are covered under this scheme, mostly tribal areas, when we met the tribal people they told us that this was a very important scheme through which they were getting their livelihood. The people are acknowledging it. But, unfortunately, the implementation of this scheme is not proper in some States. It has been found that in Madhya Pradesh, the implementation of this scheme is only 59 percent;.... (Contd. by 1x -- VP)

VP/2.15/1X

SHRI V. NARAYANASAMY (CONTD.): In Orissa, it is only 33.71 per cent. In some other States it is far less. In Uttar Pradesh, it is 29.78 per cent. Sir, the officers required for the purpose of implementing the Scheme are also not appointed. There are a lot of lacunae. There are a lot of flaws in that. Therefore, we request the hon. Minister that the Scheme which has been brought by you... (Interruptions)...

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SHRI V. NARAYANASAMY: I mentioned about the percentages. Now, I would like to mention about the lacunae in implementing this Act. Number one, there should be transparency. The people of districts and Gram Panchayats should know what is the amount allocated for their Gram Panchayats and districts; what is the total number of beneficiaries; how many people have been given job cards and what are the schemes that have been sanctioned. All these things are not known to the people. It is not published except the Employment Guarantee Scheme where the Chief Minister's photo is there. Whether it is Uttar Pradesh, or Madhya Pradesh, or Orissa, or Karnataka, they just say, the Karnataka State Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, whichever Chief Minister's photo is there. So, number one, there should be transparency in implementing the Scheme and the people should know which scheme is being implemented, how many beneficiaries are there and how employment is being given to those people. I want to know whether the hon. Minister has fixed the minimum wages. In some areas, I found that the people who are working for eight hours on hard soil, could not complete the work. We are fixing the average. But they could not earn Rs. 23-24 for an eight-hour job. But in other areas they are doing the work and earning Rs. 120 within a time of eight hours where loose soil is there. They are doing the job of desilting the pond, clearing the canal, laying the roads; kuccha roads or even providing drainage facilities. I

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* Not recorded.


request the hon. Minister that the guideline issued by the Government of India has to be very clear. It should vary from State to State. Apart from that, the minimum wages should be fixed for eight hours in all the States equally. In one State, people are getting employment; they are getting a salary of Rs. 54-55, but in another State, it is Rs. 62. In Andhra Pradesh, it is Rs. 80. It varies from State to State. There should be uniformity in fixing the minimum wages for them. The first point was about transparency. The second point is regarding the violation that is taking place. The muster roll has to be maintained. It is not being maintained. In Gram Panchayats, we have to maintain muster rolls. It is not being done. There was a survey done by an Organisation called the Centre for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) for the purpose of implementation of this Act, that is, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, at the district level. There is another Organisation called the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability. They did survey in four States, including Andhra Pradesh. (Continued by PK/1Y)

PK/1Y/2.20

SHRI V. NARAYANASAMY (CONTD.): In Andhra Pradesh, they found that 98 per cent success rate was there. In other States like Jharkhand, it is only 29 per cent. They also found that there were various lacunae in the implementation of the Scheme. The State Governments are not properly implementing the schemes and the money going there is being diverted to other purposes. Especially, at the level of the officers, at the level of the coordinators, at the level of the Gram Panchayats, the money is being taken away. It is not being given to the deserving people. Sir, it is happening under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. The hon. Minister knows it. He went to various states. He talked to the officers. He took action against some officers also. I would like to know when you are implementing the Scheme through panchayats, why the District Collectors are doing the entire job. Let the Panchayats do the job. Panchayats do not know what is the quantum of money coming to Panchayats. The decision for implementing the Scheme is taken at the Collectors' level but is imposed on the Gram Panchayats. This is being done. When we talk to the Sarpanch, they say, "Sir, we have no knowledge. They are sending it. We are only identifying the beneficiaries, and we are giving them." The Scheme is being sent there. Sir, this is a very novel Scheme. In this Scheme, there is one advantage. It can be used for productive purposes, for example, desilting ponds, clearing nallahs, and also helping the agriculturists for just caving a pond, storing water, and also for laying roads. It can also be used for productive purposes. It is not going to be there just because they are removing the sand and filling the other areas. Therefore, Sir, this novel Scheme of providing employment to the rural people, the rural poor which has been envisaged in the Act-- from my experience, I could find -- has not been properly implemented in various States. Then, there is a Review Committee. What are the findings of the Review Committee, I want to know from the hon. Minister. How many States have had a review? What are the findings of the Review Committee? What corrective measures have you taken after identifying, after seeing that the implementation of the Act is not being properly done under the Scheme? What action have you taken? What corrective measures have you taken? The job of the Ministry of Rural Development is not only to allocate funds to the States, but there should also be a monitoring mechanism in your Department. When you are giving money, you should also see that the State is accountable for implementing the Scheme. But, unfortunately, after the damage is done, your Ministry people go there and find that the money is being siphoned off by the officers and by the lower-level people. Therefore, Sir, I would like to know about the regular monitoring mechanism in the Ministry of Rural Development for implementing the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. As regards the Review Committee, what are the findings of the Review Committee? I would like to know how many complaints you have received from various States for tardy implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. What action have you taken on the basis of those complaints? Sir, it is a national Scheme. When it is implemented by various States, it is the duty of the Ministry of Rural Development to see that the target is achieved, and that the people who are poor, who need employment, are given employment and there should be no politcs in it. Sir, I find that in most of the States -- I do not know whether ruled by this party or that party,-- I do not want to go into the details, I have a lot of details about various States -- implementation has been totally shelved by various State Governments. If I say that then there will be a quarrel from the other side. Sir, I gave it, in writing, to the hon. Minister from where we had got the complaints. Can you imagine, Sir, when we go to tribal areas, we find that the people are not getting 100 days' job as assured. The deserving people are not getting 100 days' job in a year.

(Contd. by 1Z/PB)

PB-AKA/1Z/2.25

SHRI V.NARAYANASAMY (CONTD.): Then, what is the purpose of implementing this Act? Kindly tell us, when the States are not implementing it properly, why you are giving the money again. When they are not implementing the scheme properly, why do you release more funds to them? Sir, I would like to tell you about the amount which has been given by the Central Government to the various States. I don't want to read the whole thing. For 2006-07, an amount of Rs. 16,000-odd crores has been provided. When the hon. Prime Minister spoke in this august House, he had made it very clear that as far as giving money for implementing the scheme is concerned, the Government is prepared to give any amount which is required by the States. For Heaven's sake, let them implement it properly because this Scheme is meant for the poorest sections of the society. The hon. Minister knows what type of complaints are there from the various States. Though the Minister is very active, he is, unfortunately, not acting in this matter. In this matter, the Minister is very passive. I do not know why. The hon. Minister should take action against the erring officers. Why are you not taking action against them? The money is given by you. There is tardy implementation of this scheme in various States. Why don't you pull them up? ...(Interruptions)... Either you pull them up or pull them down; you can do anything.

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SHRI C. RAMACHANDRAIAH: Today, we are appreciating it.

MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: No; no; you carry on. They are appreciating it. ...(Interruptions)...

SHRI V. NARAYANASAMY: Yes; Sir, this is not a party matter. ...(Interruptions)... This subject is related to the poorest sections of society. Therefore, Sir, I would request the hon. Minister to kindly take corrective measures from today onwards. Otherwise, whatever amount, whether it is twenty thousand crores or forty thousand crores or even one lakh crores of rupees, the Government of India gives for implementing the Scheme will go into the drain. The deserving people, the poorer people will not get the advantage of it. Therefore, Sir, I want the hon. Minister to act on that.

Sir, now, two hundred districts have been covered. An assurance was given by the hon. Minister, and also by the hon. Prime Minister, in this august House that they will increase the number of districts under this scheme, which deserve it, from the next year onwards, 2007-08. How many districts are you going to include in it? Why I am saying this is because some States have sent their requests to you in this regard. How many districts are you going to include now? In 2007-08, what is the amount that you are going to earmark for this purpose? I want the hon. Minister to answer this. And for Heaven's sake, for this Scheme, kindly see that your Ministry is active. The Ministry should be active. Please see to it that the Scheme is implemented properly and the deserving people should get the advantage. I would like to inform the hon. Minister that there are some forces working in this country to make this scheme a failure. Kindly be aware of it. Identify those forces and see that the implementation of the scheme is successfully done and the credit of it goes to your Government, the UPA Government and the hon. Prime Minister and also to yourself. Thank you, Sir. (Ends)

SHRI M. VENKAIAH NAIDU (KARANATAKA): Sir, for a change, my friend, Mr. Narayanasamy, spoke from his heart. Though he tried to bring in politics in-between, he could not succeed because the facts were overriding his mind than politics.

Sir, I was Minister for Rural Development for some time. The idea was conceptualised, and we planned a programme on the similar lines of the Maharashtra Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme of Seventies during the Janata period there and, subsequently, this Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme was implemented in the State of Maharashtra. As compared to the other schemes, it was better. I can't say that the people were completely satisfied because when I, as a Minister, summoned the officials of the Maharashtra Government to my chamber to hear about the implementation of the Scheme and I made enquiries as to how many people were paid in cash when the employment was not available, the answer was not even one per cent. (Contd. by 2a)

2a/2.30/skc

SHRI M. VENKAIAH NAIDU (CONTD.): So, you could understand that figures were organized in such a way, and work was shown to be there at a distance of more than ten or fifteen kilometres so as to take the plea, "we have shown the work but the people have not gone there, what can we do, hence, no compensation." When this Government came into power, hopes were raised, and rightly so. The National Common Minimum Programme of the Government in May, 200w reads, "The UPA Government will immediately enact a National Employment Guarantee Act. This will provide legal guarantee of, at least, one hundred days of employment, to begin with, on asset creation, etc. In the interregnum, a massive Food for Work Programme will be started."

Now, there was already a programme that was being implemented by the NDA Government. What this Government did when they came to power was that they abolished practically the entire scheme. This was the promise made in May 2004 in their Common Minimum Programme. Sir, it naturally takes some time for any Government to settle, understand the problems and, then, initiate new schemes or introduce new Bills. But it took more than one-and-a-half years for this Government to implement the proposed National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. The words used then were, "This Government will immediately enact..." Now, what is meant by 'immediately'? The Minister should enlighten the House. Does it require that much time?

Now, coming to the second point, they did not talk about 150 districts. First, it has been reduced to 150 districts. Then, they said it will be increased to 200 districts. Then, slowly, by the end of the tenure of this Government, all the districts will be covered. That is the promise that they made subsequently. But the original promise was to have a National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme for the entire country. The very first act of this Government was to dilute it, limit it to the selected 150 districts. Secondly, they have also put the burden on the State Governments. The States don't have the money; they don't have the resources to match the grant of the Government of India, to join any of the programmes. That was the biggest challenge that has come up before the Government and the people who are interested in implementing the scheme. The third thing was about the action for redressing the grievances. When there is a grievance and there is no compliance, then what is the remedy available? You have not suggested anything specific, concrete, initially, to take action against the people who don't implement the Act as per the spirit. That is lacking in the Bill. It has been highlighted by many people, including the people who are there in your National Advisory Council also. They also came out and gave statements, and even wrote articles also. That should have been taken care of by the Government. Then, Sir, for proper implementation, transparency is what is required. People said that Gram Sabha will decide the works. I can assure you, Raghuvansh babu -- you are also from a rural area -- that in a majority of the areas of the country, Gram Sabhas are not functioning effectively. It is the Gram Pradhan, the Sarpanch, who is active and who is making a plan. But otherwise, the entire work is done by the District Collectors. This is a big flaw in the entire scheme; the District Collectors are holding the key. I can understand the District Collector overseeing the performance, the Zilla Panchayat overseeing the performance, but the basic responsibilities should be given to the Panchayats. This is lacking now. Panchayat does not mean the Pradhan alone, but the Panchayat Boards as such and, secondly, the Zilla Panchayat, the second tier. But, unfortunately, what is happening is, it is the bureaucracy that has taken over the control of this entire scheme. The hon. Minister should apply his mind, consult others, take the advice and views of Members of Parliament and evolve a system wherein the system of Gram Sabha meetings, the system of preparing plans, suggesting works, and then, of executing the plans is scrupulously followed. Also, Panchayat should be in the forefront. I wished to make this one point.

Then, coming to the other issues about the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, there is lack of awareness. A number of studies have revealed that the awareness levels in the country are very low. Then, most of the rural labour who have job cards are not aware of the fact that they must apply for a job in order to get employment under the NREG Scheme, which is a demand-driven programme. Secondly, there is shortage of staff. There is no staff available exclusively for the purpose of running a scheme like the Food for Work Programme. There is shortage of staff at all levels of the NREG. The responsibilities of Programme Officers and Block Development Officers have been assigned to the BDO who is already over-worked. This responsibility has been given to him. (Contd. by 2b)

KSK/MCM/2.35/2B

SHRI M. VENKAIAH NAIDU (CONTD): This responsibility has been given to him. Third, there is inadequate provision for administrative expenditure. We know, Sir, in our system, in order to implement such a massive scheme, we need some money also for administrative expenditure. If you do not provide it, people will meet that expenditure from the scheme and draw the money and show it in some other account. So, it will be indirectly encouraging corruption. That particular aspect has to be taken care of. Then, there is weak redressal procedure if somebody is not implementing it. As per the spirit, what is the procedure you have for redressal of grievances? Sir, recently, many of the Members of the National Advisory Council, which is not functional now, visited different parts of the country. They came out with scathing criticism about the implementation of the scheme. My friend, Mr. Narayanasamy, was telling that some of the States behaved like this, doing like this, and all. He has a point in what he said, but at the same time, he was only mentioning the States which are ruled by other parties. I would like to tell my friend, Mr. Narayanasamy, that the newspaper suggests that the non-Congress States take lead in employment schemes. I am not trying to highlight it further. What I am trying to say is that the States that you have mentioned - Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, even Rajasthan, even West Bengal - are doing better in the implementation of the scheme. We have to understand and acknowledge the fact that they are doing a better job. ӿ ֲ ֬ Ϥ ֋ ֬ Ϥ ָָ ָ ָ߱ Ϭ֮ ӡ ִ ֛ ֮ ִ Ӹ ߴ ֙ , ִֵָ , ܵ ӡ օ ܵ ӡ ֮֯ן׮׬ , ֯ Ù ֯ Ù ֵ֮ Congress-ruled and non-Congress ruled States Ù , ӓֵ֟ , וֻ ׸֤ , Ù ־֮Դә , ֵ -ܵ ӡ ܵ ӡ Ϭ֮ ӡ , ִֵָ ֟ ׾ֵ ꅠ ֯ ָ ֯ע ָ ܵ ӡ ֮ ֯ ֯ע , ֵ ? ָ ӳ߸ ֮ , Ϥ , -ִ ֮֟ The money belongs to the people. They are the masters and only people's representatives, elected representatives, should be given the credit or they should be given the lead, whether they belong to this side or that side, whether they are from the BJP or Congress Party or any other party, they are the elected representatives.

SHRI V. NARAYANASAMY: Sir, hon. Member, Shri Venkaiah Naidu, has been referring to this because I have got a greater complaint on that. I know the problem with the State Chief Ministers' photographs is there and publicity is given. I have no problem with that. But, it is a Central Government scheme, totally put under the Central Government and funds are given by the Central Government.

SHRI S.S. AHLUWALIA: It is a contributory Scheme.

SHRI C. RAMACHANDRAIAH: Who has contributed? It is the people.

MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: That is his opinion and this is his opinion. Mr. Naryanasamy....(Interruptions).

SHRI NARAYANASAMY: It is a Central Government Scheme and publicity is given to the State Chief Ministers. That is my complaint...(Interruptions).

MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: No...(Interruptions). Nothing will go on record.

MR. VENKAIAH NAIDU: Sir, we are having a debate, a lively debate, and I have no problem. But, for a change, I hope, at least, the media will pick up this issue. I don't do it, Sir. Forget about me. I really wanted to draw the attention of the House and I wanted the House to understand and also evolve some method. We quarrel on certain issues. Sometimes, we talk out; sometimes, we walk out; sometimes, there is break out. I agree. But, at the same time, when a constructive discussion takes place; a debate takes place on price rise, on agriculture, on rural development, on an employment guarantee scheme, the media are not at all focussing on it. I am not worried; I had enough publicity for my life. So, I do not seek any further publicity. But, the issue is : are Parliamentarians debating certain serious issues or not? This message should go to the people. But, unfortunately, it is not happening. I have the experience that last time, we discussed about agriculture, and farmers' suicides. Sir, many Members made constructive speeches, but there is no mention whatsoever. (continued by 2c)

SK/2.40/2c

SHRI M. VENKAIAH NAIDU (CONTD.): You cannot quarrel with the media. They have their own rights. But, at the same time, they have the responsibility also. It is the Indian Parliament and we are the Council of States. We are representing the States. We are highlighting certain problems of the people. Education is one of the important issues. It is not the academic education; it is educating people about the schemes. But, unfortunately, it is not happening. So, some sort of intervention and some sort of comments and counter-comments are attached to the interests of our friends of the media. I don't mind it. Moreover, I have no problem with Mr. Narayanasamy who might have seen that the Madhya Pradesh Government, while he was prabhari, his photo was not there. Rules can be amended that way that photos of even prabharis of the parties can also be published. Very pretty face of Narayanasamy can also published. ...(Interruptions)..

SHRI V. NARAYANASAMY: Hon. Chairman also said that Narayanasamy was beautiful.

MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: The entire House certifies it.

SHRI S.S. AHLUWALIA: You cannot be beautiful. You have to change the sentence. You are a handsome person. ...(Interruptions)..

SHRI M. VENKAIAH NAIDU: What is wrong in it? Men are also beautiful. Sir, Venkaiah Naidu giving a compliment or the Chair giving a compliment will not suffice. Whether madam at home gives a compliment that will suffice. If she is satisfied, then, all of us are satisfied. Sir, coming back to the programme ...(Interruptions).. She has to be. What else can she do? ...(Interruptions).. I am sorry, Sir. My straight poser to the hon. Minister. ...(Interruptions).. What is the total amount envisaged, required by the Rural Development Ministry for the scheme, year-wise? What is the amount sanctioned by the Finance Minister? Three is a big variation between them. Can the Minister take the House into confidence? This is number one. Number two is about the requirement of the entire scheme by 2009. If you have to cover all the 500 districts of the country, what is your action plan for the remaining portion? I don't blame the Minister. One year and three months of this Government have gone. Out of 16 months of your tenure, 15 months you have successfully avoided the scheme. ...(Interruptions).. No, it all depends on our friends. They are not there. Yechuryji, Mr. Madhu and others are not here. They will decide the fate of this Government. Not we. They are supporting them. If they are happy, we are happy, to the extent that they bear with this Government. My point is, out of 16 months, 15 months have gone. Remaining are 45 months. In these 45 months also, you have confined it initially to 150 districts. That means, in the first year, there would be only 150 districts. That much burden you have reduced. Then, in next year, 200 districts. By the end of 2009, there is a saying in Telugu. I do not know how to say it in English. Somebody wanted to describe Pancha Pandavas. Pancha Pandavas, he thought, means five. He thought of five; and then, thought of showing four; and then thought of writing three; and then tried to write two; and at the end, he could not write even one and made it zero. This Government has passed 15 months right now without envisaging the scheme. Secondly, it was confined to only 150 districts, and thirdly, now they are trying to cover 200 districts. Should these poor people wait for the remaining four and a half years? I can understand, in a place, where more deserving people are there, they can be given priority. But, how can you exclude if you feel that there is a need for such a scheme? If you call it a pilot project, I have no problem. You did not call it a pilot project. Certain areas in the country are more deserving. They have been left out. In the States of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, in Maharashtra, I have my personal experience, Sir, there are worst famine-affected districts, where migration takes place, you have not included those districts. You may say, "What can I do. It is the Planning Commission's feedback, which has decided about the criteria for the allocation of these districts." It is floods. I can tell you Raghuvanshbabu, if you go through the list, you yourself can understand that the criteria they have selected for backward districts is flood. So, something needs to be done in that direction also. You need to come out with a clear-cut policy. Our friend, Mr. Narayanasamy, was mentioning that the Prime Minister has given an assurance in this House that funds are no problem. Sir, funds are also a problem. You don't have adequate funds.

Sir, I have got some observations made by Prof. Jean Dreze, who is one of the architects of this Bill. (Contd. by 2d)

-SK/YSR-MP/2.45/2D

SHRI M. VENKAIAH NAIDU (CONTD.): Prof. Jean Dreze, Economist and former National Advisory Council member, says, "That the current level of employment under the Scheme is well below estimates. The programme has so far generated just 3,663 lakh mandays as against the target of 200,000 lakh mandays, which is just two per cent of the estimates. There is no lack of demand for employment. There is something lacking in the way the programme is being implemented."

Speaking to The Indian Express, Employment Guarantee Council member Annie Raja said: "The dismal performance of the NREG in various parts of country is a product of lack of willingness in the bureaucracy and the political heads." This is the observation made by the people who are involved in the drafting of the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

Thirdly, coming to the implementation, reports emanating from the Indian Social Forum (ISF) -- the conference-cum-jamboree of social activists and NGOs that took place in Delhi this past week -- indicate a worrying audit for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme. Even the civil society groups that backed the NREGP are all disappointed and are dismayed by the leakages, corruption and general inefficacy that seem to be plaguing the flagship anti-poverty scheme of the Union Government. The amount is around Rs.6,000 crore. Even a reasonable estimate, per year, is Rs.20,000 crore for 150 districts. That has been studied officially by the Applied Economic Research Forum of the country. They came out with the figure that Rs.20,000 crore is required. And what is the provision? Rs.6,000 crore! And what is the expenditure? I am not going State-wise, because the Minister himself is having figures, and they are put on the website also.

Sir, I come from Andhra Pradesh. The question is that the most serious complaints are from Andhra Pradesh. There are stories in different newspapers. I am not trying to score a political point over the Andhra Pradesh Government there, because it simply happens to be a Congress Government. Why I am mentioning Andhra Pradesh is because the Scheme was launched by the hon. Prime Minister and the Congress President who took interest in it. I do give her credit -- there is no problem for me -- in drafting this Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. They launched the Scheme in Anantapur. If you have complaints galore, which are serious in nature, from that very State and district, you can imagine the fate of the Scheme in different parts of the country. This is the point I just wanted to bring to the notice of the hon. Minister.

Secondly, regarding the implementation part of it, there has to be transparency. People should know about it. Sir, as the Minister, I gave instructions that the amount of money that had to be given to each Scheme, district-wise and panchayat-wise, should be put not only on the website -- because websites are not that much popular -- but also be given to the regional newspapers, and thirdly, to be given to panchayats, to be displayed in the village chaurahas, whatever you call it, so that people know that this much amount of money is being spent in the village under this Scheme, whether it is the Awaas yojana, or whether it is a Road Scheme, or whether it is a Drinking Water Scheme, or a School Building Scheme, or whatever it is. You should display it in the village. The awareness levels are increasing in the villages. People will find faults with the executing agency, ֮ ֵ, ֮ ֓ , ֮ ֓ , ֮ ֓ , ִ? ־ֻ ־ֲ ֛, ׻֋ I want to tell the Minister that think on these lines. Signboards should be displayed publicly in each place; otherwise, you know the bureaucracy. They will say, "We have done that; we have issued notices also. ֮ Ù , Ù , ӓֵ֟ ָ ָ " , ױ finally This has to be understood also.

Sir, now I come to the complaints. You have to fix the responsibility. The agency, which is implementing this Scheme, has to be made accountable to the people; they have to be made accountable for their inefficiency and inaction also. Unless you put a penal provision for non-implementation or improper implementation, the Scheme will not be successful, because it is massive. One Minister from Delhi, or the Prime Minister from here, or the Chief Minister from a State, cannot oversee what is happening in a village, even in 150 districts. So, you need to have transparency; you need to have accountability; and you need to have a sense of fear and responsibility in the minds of the people who are the executing agency, so that they also feel that somebody is watching them. (Contd. by VKK/2E)

-YSR/VKK/2e/2.50

SHRI M. VENKAIAH NAIDU (CONTD.): Now, we have entered the computer age. Practically, there is a system now available almost in all the districts where you can have all these things, all your data on day-to-day basis, and they can be cross-checked. Can you evolve such a system that any day, if I just open the website, I can find and visit a particular district and then a village, and then find out what is happening, what is the reality so that well-meaning NGOs, enlightened civil society and well-intentioned media can focus on these and then expose those people who are misusing the scheme. Recently, lot of NGOs have visited across the country including Andhra Pradesh. They came out with startling revelation. It is a news item which says, names of teachers, members of the families of employees and even of the children of politicians and then, other important people are there in those lists that are prepared. How can this happen if so much scrutiny is there? If you are really monitoring the scheme, how can the names of such people be included in the list?

Then, Sir, with regard to the card, it is not given as per eligibility; card is given as per some other consideration and if a poor man has to pay Rs.40 or Rs.50 for procuring the card, how do you expect him to survive in such a system? You have to simplify it and you have to make it obligatory on the part of District Administration to see that every eligible person is provided a card. Then, with regard to enrolment, if they refuse to enrol as per the demand, what is the remedy? Whom do they have to approach? After all, a rural person, even today, is not that much educated, he does not have ways and means of communication to communicate to others and to complain also. For that also, there has to be some system.

Sir, the Act is very clear that the Gram Panchayat, not Pradhan, shall be responsible for the identification of projects; a Gram Panchayat may take up any project; every Gram Panchayat shall prepare a development plan; the Gram Panchayat shall allocate employment opportunities among the applicants; the Gram Panchayat shall make available all relevant documents including muster rolls, bills, vouchers, etc.; applications for work may be submitted in writing either to the Gram Panchayat, not to the Pradhan; the Gram Panchayat and programme officer shall be bound to accept valid applications and to issue a dated receipt. Sir, this application itself is very cumbersome. How do you expect ordinary people in the villages to fill it up? Does it require a big application? One simple line that I am unemployed and I want work. (Interruptions) My friend, Shri Ahluwalia, is saying that in some places, it is 21 pages.

SHRI S.S. AHLUWALIA: Even more pages. Sir, it is not about some places. It is the application, a 21-page application, throughout the country for registration.

SHRI M. VENKAIAH NAIDU: So, the Minister should apply his mind. Everybody says this. The Indian Express says, "Job cut out -- given its potential, the rural jobs programme deserves a thorough review". Sir, we do not have adequate time, otherwise, I would have given you the details. Sir, rational norms are also required because measurement of work for payment of wages had generated some controversies in some of the areas. "The work norms are too demanding. There are very few cases of any one earning the statutory minimum wage of Rs.73 per day", Ms. Aruna Roy, Magsaysay Award winner, said in an interview to a newspaper. There has to be a rationalisation of work norms and measurement practices that would make it possible for workers to earn minimum wages. She was a former Member of the NAC. There is scope for corruption also. Sir, there is need for a comprehensive social audit of the Act. Some of the private organisations have done the comprehensive audit, but the results of the audit are very disappointing because they do not stand the levels which we expected in the scheme. The most dangerous form of inaction on the NREGA relates to transparency of safeguards such as the mandatory availability of muster roll at the work sites. In many of the areas, at the work site, there is no muster roll. It is prepared subsequently. Field report suggests that these safeguards are often neglected. The CBGA study cited earlier found that muster rolls were rarely available at the work site except in one of the four sample States. They have taken samples of different States. (Contd. by RSS/2f)

RSS/LT/2f/2.55/

SHRI M. VENKAIAH NAIDU (CONTD.)... In this context, recent efforts in Andhra Pradesh deserve to be closely observed. It is not just that the Government of Andhra Pradesh has taken pioneering steps, but there have been interesting public initiatives to mobilise for the NREGS. A lot of public is taking interest. Voluntary organizations are taking interest to see that the scheme becomes a success. In Anantapur, this experiment was made in the social audit inspired by Durgapur pad yatra. But, new dimensions to this exercise have been added. A lot of people have joined this yatra and they started inspecting the work sites in gram panchayats, verifying muster rolls and other records, and at the end of it, they have found that some of the interesting revelations that have come are, firstly, these cards are not given as per individuals. Secondly, muster rolls are not maintained. Thirdly, the advocated minimum wages are not paid. Fourthly, work standards and norms are demanding which cannot be met by innocent local people. Fifthly, payment is made after 15 days in some of these places. In 15 days, do you expect a farm labour or a landless poor or an ordinary agricultural worker to sustain without food? This also has to be kept in mind. It has to be a daily wage programme. The response, I can tell you, is very interesting. People want this scheme to be successful. Even from the Opposition, we can assure you that we want this scheme to become successful. ָ ֯ ߵ֟ What is your commitment? Simple commitment will not suffice, without funds. If you want to function, you need funds. Without funds, you cannot achieve your objective. First of all, let us know from this Government what is the budgetary allocation you are proposing to make to meet your own targets of 150 villages, 200 villages, then adding 100 districts like that. At the end of it, you must come out with figures of allocation. Mere jugglery of figures will not suffice. The main concern is, the lack of political will with regard to awareness, with regard to sufficient provisions for administrative experience, with regard to shortage of staff, with regard to lack of independent redressal mechanism. So, these things have not been addressed by this Government. I would like the Minister to throw some light on this issue, and also take note of the criticism that has come in various parts of the media. Simply don't be carried away by this plea that since somebody criticises your scheme, he is your enemy. Some people were saying something. They were telling around something. Who told them that some people want to see that this scheme is failed? I do not think any party in any part of this country is thinking on those lines. Sir, you need preparatory work. An amount of Rs. 305 crores has been released to undertake preparatory work and the Plan proposal for 2006-07 for implementation of the NREGA in 200 districts at the initial stage, your expenditure is supposed to be Rs. 16419 crores. What is the allocation that has been made so far? I do agree that it is a unique scheme, and the country needs such a scheme. There is no second opinion about it. But, without adequate funding, once again I want to emphasise that this will not succeed.

Sir, according to the projections by a preliminary study, the report of the scheme prepared by New Delhi based Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability, CBGA, the Central Government will have to allot Rs. 9,240 crores and Rs. 30,000 crores in 2005-06 and 2006-07 respectively to pay the beneficiaries alone. Administrative costs and other expenses have not been included in this estimation. The projection was based on the assumption that in the 200 districts where the scheme is being implemented, 92.4 crore mandays of employment would be generated in the 42 days remaining in the financial year 2005-06. Where is the money? You wanted to implement the scheme in all the 593 districts by the end of your term, that is, by 2009. It seems that the Government plans to carry out to give 100 days in 115 districts each year. That means the Central Government has to start making an allocation of Rs. 22,250 crores in the coming budget. (contd. by 2g)

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