According to a crude estimate, around 20,000 labourers of Rayagada district have already returned back through various means of transport and long walk. As these labourers are mostly from rural areas, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has also stressed on engaging these returnees through MGNREGS. During a recent visit of 5T Secretary VK Pandian to the district, the district Collector apprised him that around 30,000 man days were created under the MGNREGS.
But to the utter dismay of people of Rayagada, machines have been deployed instead of men as prescribed by MGNREG Act. Taking the advantage of Covid-19 and weak monitoring, some officials have got into corrupt practices.
One such incident has taken place in Ramachandrapur Indira Awas Colony near Seiskhal village under Rayagada block. This place is hardly 15 km away from the Rayagada town headquarters and situated beside the NH leading to Andhra Pradesh. A huge pond under MGNREGS is dug with help of a contractor using machines like JCB and tractors without a single manual labourer for last few weeks.
Interestingly enough senior bureaucrats like Collector, Sub-Collector, PD-DRDA, SP, BDO, Tehsildar, RTO and other monitoring authorities traverse through the road upto Kerada where the border check post has been established to welcome the migrants entering into Odisha and monitor inter-State movements of vehicles and passers-by.
“Many officers including Collector, who is the District Programme Coordinator(DPC) of MGNREGA, must have noticed the machines doing the work. The reasons of not stopping the work done illegally are best known to them. It seems the contractor is an employee in Rayagada block office and he has been using his brother’s name as a proxy. There is certainly a nexus among the contractor and the officials in entrusting a work under MGNREGS, which is mostly labour oriented. If this could happen under the nose of the district headquarters, one can imagine the extent of corruption in the hinterlands of the district. Some corrupt officials are in a hurry to achieve the target," said Suchana Adhikar Mancha, Rayagada, convenor Rabindra Patakhandal.