Srinagar: The J&K government has started scrutinising appointments made under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA or MNREGA). The rural development department has already directed that employees hired in contravention of rules be dismissed.
About 2,400 employees on consolidated salaries were hired for the Government of India’s flagship scheme in Jammu & Kashmir, but questions have been raised over the way these appointments were made. An official of the rural development department said that the issue of illegal appointments came under the scanner after the Governor’s office received complaints. Many employees, it was alleged, were appointed on recommendations or references, bypassing the rules set for hiring employees.
Employees hired for the scheme are being paid consolidated wages based on yearly contract, subject to performance. These appointments are made by district-level committees and a candidate has to clear an examination to qualify for the job. Many appointees were engaged in “contravention” to the departmental rules, which are creating holes in the budgeted amount, Kashmir Reader has learnt.
Early this year, the State Accountability Commission raised questions over the implementation of Rs 1,800-crore centrally sponsored schemes in the state’s rural development sector. But the previous PDP-BJP dispensation clipped the wings of SAC and took away its suo motu powers, leaving no scope for investigations.
The MGNREGA is a social security legislation that guarantees employment to the poor to ensure livelihood security. The Government of India had withheld funds in the past after some loopholes were spotted in the implementation process, one among being “misuse” of funds meant for development works under the programme.
Secretary Rural Development department (RDD) Sheetal Nanda in a communiqué, a copy of which was accessed by Kashmir Reader, has directed for discontinuation of employees whose appointments were made in “contravention to rules, norms, guidelines in vogue and without following due procedure”. District development commissioners have been asked to submit their report within 15 days.
The exercise is aimed at streamlining and rationalising the existing manpower, the communiqué said.
Director RDD Qazi Sarwar told Kashmir Reader that rules may have been bent in some cases but the report is yet to come.
“Those hired in contravention of rules will be disengaged,” he said.