Jhansi: A word meant to instill hopes into the lives of many hunger stricken destitute has not only failed to serve the purpose but has gone unheard as well. The Centre’s flagship programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), seems to be on slippery ground as many beneficiaries of the scheme have been deprived of its advantage.

This fact came to light when a Jagran team visited a few villages in Jhansi and found out that the Centre’s ineffective implementation of the social-welfare scheme has left many crying for a job to make both ends meet.

Some of the Dalit families residing in Berara, nearly 90 km away from Jhansi’s Garautha Tehsil, have never ever heard about MNREGA. The only fleeting idea they have is that there is a job-card created by the village-head which helps in getting employment. They tried to get a card from the village head but their request went unheard. So, they believe that this scheme is ineffective.

Nursing his 16-year-old blind son, Harcharan shared his woes and pointed out that there is no solution to their sufferings as the village-head does not even hear their complaints. Hardayal, an elderly member of the family supported Harcharn’s claim and mentioned that politicians listen to only those who vote for them.

This village in Jhansi under the constituency of Union Rural Development Minister Pradeep Kumar Jain presents the stark reality.
When the Jagran team reached Gurusarai police station, a JCB was found standing outside. On inquiry, the police official said the JCB was caught few days back in Asta village and was being used for mining.

Ironically, the work done by the machine should have been allotted to people under MNREGA. But the salary stipulated for people working under MNREGA is being used to purchase machines which are then deployed to carry out the work meant for people. This proves that though the destitute of these villages have a job card, they are deprived of the job.

Exploring further, Jagran team reached Dhwakar, which is about 70 km away from the headquarters, only to zero in on a tribal woman Devika who burst into tears and shared her pain revealing that job card is useless for them as it does not help them to secure employment.

Another sufferer, 35-year-old Deshraj, showed the card and said in the last three years he has not even worked for 100 days. His wife Mana Devi said they are sitting empty handed since December 2010. The pair only worked for a few days to construct a road, which was built by the Public Works Department (PWD).

Simultaneously, an ongoing probe showed that in Moti Katra village three job cards were issued on the same number. Moth and Tehrauli Tehsil suffer the same pain.

On being asked about the job cards in Tehrauli, several incomplete cards with no entries were dumped in front by the people.

A local resident, Nathuram said MNREGA follows arbitrariness. “Pradhanji gets the work done in our villages by the people of Dhamna village who have voted for him,” he said.

SP MLA Govind Kushwaha’s native village, however, presented an altogether different picture. Panchayat member Kalicharan Raikwar said most workers do not want work under MNREGA as they do not get paid in cash but the amount gets deposited in their accounts. They prefer working in canals as they get paid in cash.

It will not be incorrect to say that MNREGA brought new rays of hope in people’s life but all the promises have gone down the drain.

JPN/Bureau