Government mulls ombudsman for rural job scheme


New Delhi : Plagued by grievances and discrepancies in the working of its flagship rural job guarantee scheme, the union ministry of rural development Thursday set up a commitee to see if appointing an ombudsman for the scheme would help.

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“The ministry of rural development has decided to constitute an expert group under the chairmanship of Moolchand Sharma, vice-chairman of University Grants Commission (UGC), for examining institutional mechanisms for the establishment of ombudsman under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA),” a press communique from the ministry said.

The expert group will have five members and officials from the ministries of rural development, law and justice, labour and employment and panchayati raj, and Chief Vigilance Commission.

The committee will examine mechanisms for grievance redressal under the NREGA in the states. It will recommend an appropriate institutional mechanism for redressal of grievances under the NREG Act.

The group will submit its report within six weeks.

Congress parliament member Rahul Gandhi has staged sit-in protests and said various state governments were not implementing the program with sincerity. He has complained of corruption and other anomalies in its execution.

The job scheme, which funds labour intensive works with the intention of providing employment to rural youth, was implemented in all 604 districts of the country from April 1.

Under the scheme, district programme coordinators and programme officers along with their support staff, panchayat raj institutions, gram sabhas, line departments and NGOs are involved.

“Large number of complaints are being received in the ministry on which state governments are being asked to take remedial action. National level monitors and area officers of the ministry are also conducting special enquiries on those complaints,” the ministry said.