When the UPA government is trying to reach out to the targeted beneficiaries with the rural development schemes, the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) which is the nodal agency for implementing rural development schemes including Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) remains crippled due to shortage of staff. Out of the sanctioned 44 posts, 38 remain vacant. Most of the posts are vacant for the last two years, while some chairs are vacant since 2006. Only five posts of executive engineer, project economist, assistant engineer, junior engineer and a driver are filled up, said official sources.
There is no full time officer to serve as project director. There are no assistant project officers, technical assistants, statistical investigator, data entry operator, stenographer, assistants, UDCs, LDCs, senior and junior accounts officer and peons to serve the agency. A S P S Ravi Prakash who is the director of Local Administration Department is holding additional charge of project director.
Currently, more than 85 per cent of the posts are lying vacant and this is affecting the implementation of the schemes, sources added.
Though Chief Minister N Rangasamy has been lamenting about the financial crunch and is finding fault with the Centre for not releasing adequate funds, unfortunately the Territorial administration has not been able to use the funds allocated by the Central government under various schemes. The implementation of the Member of Parliament’s Local Area development Scheme (MPLADs) is a glaring example for this.
Puducherry had failed to reap benefit of the MPLAD corpus that was raised from Rs 2 crore to Rs 5 crore in 2011-2012, as no funds were released for the past two years. The MPLADs fund amounting to Rs 10 crore per year, five crore each for Lok Sabha member V Narayanasamy and Rajya Sabha member P Kannan, is yet to be released. Even MGNREGA is not getting full attention it deserves, with beneficiaries desiring more employment opportunities and timely payment, due to shortage of staff.
The DRDA is in charge of implementing Government of India schemes for development in rural India. This includes the flagship programme of MGNREGA , National Rural Livelihood Mission, Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana, MPLADs, Indira Awas Yojana (IAY), Housing scheme, Total sanitation Campaign and Providing Urban facilities in Rural Areas (PURA) .
The agency has to prepare projects and plans for availing of funds under the scheme, process application for selection of beneficiaries and provide timely reports on utilisation of funds to Centre for release of fresh funds. It involves a lot of work for which manpower is required. But the shortage of staff had hit the implementation of the scheme.
When contacted, project director (in-charge) Ravi Prakash said that a file has been put up to the government for deputing personnel to the posts.