Many residents of Umlyngka village, East Khasi Hills, are befuddled to be asked to report for some rural employment guarantee scheme (MGNREGS) work with no hope of payment for their labour.
Right to Information (RTI) activists had recently exposed malpractices surrounding the scheme’s implementation in Umlyngka and this has had massive repercussions in the village.
One of the four local headmen has resigned, it has been learnt, while several households which possessed more than one job card have turned in the extras.
The activists had uncovered instances where lakhs of rupees meant for MGNREGS projects had been withdrawn by local officials even though the work was incomplete. Now, following the RTI exposure, the village employment council (VEC) is reportedly trying to hurriedly cover their tracks to get these incomplete works finished now even though it does not have additional funds to pay the villagers for their labour.
For the last several weeks after the RTI application revealed many malpractices in the implementation of MNREGS schemes there have been many meetings called and local level ‘investigations’ held as the officials from Mylliem Block tried to control the narrative.
However, they are hard pressed to justify many instances where the documents state that the works were completed but on physical verification these works, such as making drains, footpaths, washing space, cow sheds, etc were far from complete and had been left unattended until now even though the utilization certificates had been issued.
In fact, the Mylliem Block Development Office, under which Umlyngka is located, has a lot of explaining to do about these anomalies carried out on its watch even as it prepares to release the fresh batch of MGNREGS schemes for this financial year.
Umlyngka has four village dorbars with their own Rangbah Shnongs. It is learnt that one of the Rangbah Shnongs has resigned since the findings came to light. While the reason for his resignation is not known, it is surmised that this MGNREGS-related mess could be the main reason. It has been learnt that the village headmen want a thorough investigation into the MGNREGS works so that the name of the dorbars are not sullied but the VEC has hardly shared any information about these works with the dorbars.