New Delhi: A Parliamentary panel today questioned the "silence" of the government over resolving the issue of "fake" job cards in MGNREGA and pitched for conducting random inspection and getting them audited under the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
The Standing Committee on Rural Development headed by AIADMK leader P Venugopal in its three other reports including on MGNREGA, drinking water and sanitation and various schemes of rural development ministry also found out loopholes in implementation of the schemes and desired that the government should take corrective steps.
The reports were placed in both the Houses today.
The panel in its fourteenth report said that the Committee had taken note of many discrepancies like issue of "fake job cards, inclusion of fictitious names, unlawful possession of job cards" with influential people including elected representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutions or MGNREGA functionaries.
"It had strongly emphasised the need for bringing reform in the process of issue of job cards by making these offences punishable under section 25 of MGNREGA, conducting random inspection of job cards, linking job cards with Voter-ID/Aadhar cards for minimising chances of fake/multiple job cards and bring job cards within the ambit of social audit or audit under the directions of the CAG," the panel noted.
Voicing displeasure over the ministry's reply, it said,"the Committee is constrained to note that the action taken reply of the department of rural development is silent on the issue of making the job cards subject to audit under the directions of CAG of India and also conducting of random inspection of job cards to weed out the fake job cards.
"The reply of the department is also silent on the matter of the reported complaints regarding non-issue of dated receipts to job applicants. In view of the various discrepancies and complaints relating to job cards, there is serious apprehension about the authenticity of the effective implementation of the provisions mandated in the MGNREGA operational guidelines.
"The Committee are of the strong opinion that there should be proper process of actual verification and also there is a need for random inspections at the ground level to keep a check on the various irregularities in the issues of job cards," it said.
The Committee also noted with concern that the participation of women under MGNREGA has been less than the national average in some of the states such as Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal and that these states have failed to meet the statutory requirement of providing one third employment to women beneficiaries.
It also rued that the government did not elaborate in its action taken reply about the recruitment of manpower and providing infrastructure to check delay in payment of wages under MGNREGA and called for "urgent action" in this regard.
The panel also expressed unhappiness over "lack of seriousness" by rural development department to ensure convergence among different schemes for optimum utilisation of resources and avoid wasteful expenditure.
In its tenth report, the panel said action taken reply of Government does not indicate what concrete steps were taken by it to strengthen capacities of states in analysing and overcoming the problems involved in optimum utilisation of allocated funds even as the panel had earlier expressed their concern over recurrent under-utilisations of budgetary allocations.
It also rued that the ministry has "not indicated the concrete action" taken on the specific recommendation of the committee to develop a mechanism for getting the utilisation certificates in time by the states.
The committee, which had earlier recommended that the ministry should set up some mechanism to curb "malpractices" in Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, observed that the ministry has not indicated any such new mechanism in its action taken report.
It also noted, "the Committee, however, is dismayed to note that the action taken note of the government is silent on the recommendation of the committee about rationalisation of the process of appointment of contractors".
The panel, in its 13th report on Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, said that it is of the strong view that proper planning and effective execution of the scheme for providing safe drinking water to the rural populace of the country and desired that an independent evaluation study on it should be completed at the earliest.
It also noted that as against the target, only around 55 per cent of household toilets have been constructed in the last financial year and recommended that it should be speeded up.