Government's employment guarantee scheme - Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) - has remained a non-starter in 21 gram panchayats of the district.
Only 50 per cent of Rs 17.55 crore sanctioned under MGNREGS for 2012-13 financial year has been spent by the district administration so far. Of the 3478 projects taken up under the scheme last year, only 506 have been completed till date and work for the remaining 2,972 are in progress.
Following this, the district administration has issued show cause notices to sarpanchs and panchayat executive officers, responsible for implementation of the scheme, of Bagada, Dashipur, Silipur, Bachara, Balipatana, Baluria, Nilakanthapur, Penthapala, Mangalpur, Koranda, Pradhanpada, Pegarapada, Aragala, Attala, Badambila, Bhuinpur, Kuladiha, Narendrapur, Nuapada, Padanipala and Sansida gram panchayats.
District Collector Nirajan Nayak said disciplinary action would be taken against the sarpanchs and panchayat executive officers for their inability to implement the scheme properly.
The sarpanchs, however, clarified that people are not coming forward to work under MGNREGS due to low wages. While the minimum wage for a daily labourer is around Rs 200, but under MGNREGA the daily wage is Rs 164.
Prakash Kumar Nayak, the Sarpanch of Nuapada gram panchayat this is primarily the reason why people are ignoring the scheme. "These days even a daily labourer earns between Rs 200 and Rs 300 doing odd jobs. Why would somebody work under the Government scheme for just Rs 146?," he said. Nayak had last year paid a fine of `1,000 imposed by the district administration for non-implementation of the scheme in his gram panchayat.
"This year too, I am ready to pay fine again. There is no other option as people are not ready to work under the scheme," he said.
Sulochana Das, Sarpanch of Silipur gram panchayat, had a similar opinion. She said it was decided that a pond will be dug up in their panchayat under the scheme for which, 80 workers would be required. "But only 20 workers came forward to accept work under the MGNREGS. As a result, we have not been able to begin the work yet. No one is ready to work at just Rs 146 per day," she said.