Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Delhi relents on NREGA funds to Dima Hasao

Nagaon, Aug. 8: Normal flow of funds to Assam’s troubled Dima Hasao district, under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), would resume after a gap of four financial years.
The development came just a couple of weeks after representatives from the hill district’s autonomous council moved the Centre, seeking special consideration regarding funds.
The decision to stop funds flow made the 40,000-plus job card holders of the hill district “victims of red tape”.
A source of the state government today said of the annual requirement of Rs 49 crore, Rs 14 crore would be released at the earliest. The remaining amount would be released in phases.
Normal flow of funds to the Dima Hasao district was stopped following the detection of major funds misutilisation during the financial year of 2006-07, during which the district received Rs 86 crore.
The government later ordered a principal secretary-level inquiry into the matter and subsequently took steps against two senior officials of the district rural development department.
A high-level district autonomous council team, led jointly by chief executive member Debajeet Thausan and chairman Debulal Hojai, moved the Union rural development ministry recently and pleaded for immediate financial support as the system deprived poor villagers.
“We could not provide detailed explanations of the fund utilisation mechanism at that period since we were not in power then. What we can say is that over-expenditure was because of the government’s decision to release more funds than was required. The department perhaps spent the money as it was released to the council,” said a council source.
Thausan today said all formalities for smooth funds flow had already been completed after the recent meeting of the council team with officials of the Union rural development department and work would be started soon after the money was released.
Dima Hasao district has five development blocks, including New Sangbar in Garampani, Jatinga valley in Mahur, Diyung valley in Maibong, Hasrangajau and Doyangbra. According to office records, the district has 4,079 job card holders of who 1,536 are Scheduled Castes, 33,494 Scheduled Tribes and the remaining 5,760 belong to other communities.
“People lining up for work is a common phenomenon in the block offices as ignorant villagers do not understand that sufficient fund is not there to give them hundred days of work in a year. If the normal flow begins, it might relieve the poor people from the work crisis,” said a source from the Jatinga valley development block.
A state panchayat and rural development department source said strict monitoring of funds utilisation would be done.

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