Srinagar, Dec 9: Developmental works in rural areas have come to a grinding halt after Jammu and Kashmir government failed to clear Rs 600 crore liabilities under MGNREGA scheme.
Panchayat members were entrusted to carry out developmental works in order to strengthen grassroots democracy. But for the last several years, liabilities including wages have mounted to Rs 600 crore. With the result, labourers and contractors have stopped working in most of the villages.
An official of Rural Development Department said it is very difficult for labourers to work without wages for months.
“Besides wages, liabilities include material purchased for developmental works,” he said.
The official however hastened to add that some payment has been released in the current fiscal so far. “Centre has released some payment but J&K government is yet to disburse it among labourers and contractors,” he said.
Under rules, labourers engaged for developmental works under MGNREGA must get their wages within 14 days.
Chairman, All Jammu Kashmir Panchayat Association, (AJKPA), Shafiq Mir claimed that Panchayat members are not able to start developmental works in their respective constituencies.
“As per our assessment, liability under MGNREGA scheme has reached Rs 900 crore, of which Rs 300 crore are pending wages of labourers,” Mir said.
He said holding Panchayat elections was “mere eyewash”. “Government is lying that it is empowering Panchayat members. All developmental works have been halted as labourers are not ready to work because their wages have not been cleared,” he said.
Secretary, Rural Development Department, Sheetal Nanda said some payment of under MGNREGA scheme is pending.
Nanda, however, said she can’t share further details on the phone.
Centre, sources said, has released Rs 1000 crore to Panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir.
There are 4,490 Sarpanch and 35096 Panch constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir. Around 21 departments including Rural Development, Social Welfare, Health, Education, Power, Horticulture, Fisheries and Agriculture, come under the administrative control of Panches and Sarpanches at Gram Panchayat level.
Panchayats, in addition to being involved in the selection of eligible beneficiaries for various government welfare schemes, can get Rs 50 lakh-80 lakh per year for implementation of key national schemes such as the National Health Mission and Samagra Shiksha etc.