Srinagar: Jammu received twice the money given to Kashmir, in which Ladakh region also had a share, under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). As per official documents, Rs 33,137 lakh were released to Jammu division during the final year 2016-17 while Rs 17,579 lakh — half the amount released to Jammu – was given to Kashmir in which Ladakh division took a share of more than Rs 2,400 lakh.
Even though the largest rural population is in Baramulla district of north Kashmir with 8,40,948 people living in villages, followed by Anantnag with 7,91,237 and Kupwara with 7, 76,332 rural populations, the highest amount during the last fiscal year (FY) was taken by Doda district of Jammu where the rural population, as per Government of India Census, is less than 4 lakh. In terms of funds given, Doda was followed by Kishtwar and Jammu with Rs 6,581 lakh and Rs 3,995 lakh, respectively.
During the FY 2016-17, the seven constituencies of Baramulla district received Rs 1,830 lakh while Doda district with four constituencies of population 3,77,003 received Rs 7,719 lakh under the scheme launched in 2005.
About Rs 1,004 crore were allocated for Jammu and Kashmir state for the FY 2015-16 and during FY 2016-17, Rs 895 crore were allocated under NREGS, a scheme that receives 90 percent funding from Government of India and the rest from the state government.
Kashmir Valley has a population of 69.08 lakh while Jammu division has 53.50 lakh. Ladakh region accounts for 2.90 lakh population of the state.
Secretary Rural Development Department (NREGS) KK Sidha told Kashmir Reader that there was no disparity as far as the allocation of funds to different areas was concerned.
“We allocate the funds as per the mandate we receive from ground officials. They inform us that a certain number of work days have been generated in some development work at a particular place. We receive the proposal from them and forward that for the release of funds required for the work,” Sidha said.
When asked about the higher amount of funds allocated for districts that had lower rural population, he said it was because people from areas of higher fund allocation were registered in the Rural Development Department and sought employment under schemes of that department.
“We have areas in Kashmir and in Jammu where rural population is higher, but they haven’t applied for ‘Job Card’ required for seeking employment. They prefer other employment avenues or are not interested in seeking work under this scheme. But people from remote areas like Doda, Kishtwar and Kupwara have largely participated because of less job avenues,” he said.
A meeting of the Empowered Committee for the State of Jammu and Kashmir for the Financial Year 2016-17 was held in March last year under the chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, in New Delhi. In the meeting, the J&K government was castigated for its poor performance in completion of works taken under NREGS.
The officials representing the state in the meeting were told to examine the reasons for poor rate of completion of works and to make efforts for completing all incomplete works (1.05 lakh) as on 31.03.2015 by 31.05.2016.
“Majority of the incomplete works have been finished while the reaming ones would be completed soon,” Sidha added.