THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: After a gap, the state is set to have an ombudsperson at the district-level for the disposal of grievances related to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). An ombudsperson, a post mandated under the MGNREG Act, is entrusted with the task of considering grievances, to conduct inquiry and to ensure redressal on the same.
According to MGNREGS State Mission, the appointment will be for two years, which is extendable to not more than twice by one year each. “The state once had ombudspersons in every district. But later it fell vacant. Now after a gap, a notification has been issued to fill the vacancies,” said an officer of the MGNREGS State Mission.
According to the officer, due to the absence of ombudspersons, complaints of irregularities/corruption and embezzlement including diversion of funds, under/non-payment of wages, lack of transparency and others were being sent to the Ministry of Rural Development. However, since the responsibility of implementation of MGNREGA is vested with the state governments/UTs, the complaints are sent to the state for further action.
At the same time, LP Chither, additional development commissioner, MGNREGS State Mission said that the ombudsperson will improve the quality of MGNREGA works in the state as it will monitor and take up grievance redressal mechanism in every district.
“The ombudsperson can receive complaints from MGNREGA workers and others on matters related to the execution of MGNREGS either at the office or in the field during a field inspection. It is also authorized to initiate proceedings suo motu on matters related to delayed payment of wages or nonpayment of unemployment allowance,” said Chither.
As per the notification, only those who had at least 10 years of experience in public administration, law, academics, social work or management can apply for the post.
The maximum age limit is 66 years. It will be a committee headed by an officer in the rank of the additional chief secretary who will scrutinize the applications and conduct the selection. Representatives from the Ministry of Rural Development will also become part of the process.
To bring in transparency and accountability in MGNREGA works the state had included various measures like geo-tagging, Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), National Electronic Fund Management System (NeFMS), Aadhar Based Payment System (ABPS), Software for Estimate Calculation using Rural rates for Employment (SECURE), geo-tagging of MGNREGA assets and others.
Shortage of hands
According to the officer, due to the absence of ombudspersons, complaints of irregularities/corruption and embezzlement including diversion of funds, under/non-payment of wages, lack of transparency and others were being sent to the Ministry of Rural Development.