Eliminate fake beneficiaries for proper execution of schemes

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Eliminate fake beneficiaries for proper execution of schemes

Friday, 01 October 2021 | MANAS JENA

The makers of modern India dreamed of a socialist pattern of society with equal rights and opportunities to all its citizens. As a constitutional mandate, the Central and State Governments have been executing a host of schemes and programmes to build an inclusive society. But many of such well-intended efforts are being misdirected with increasing number of fake beneficiaries. The tendency to get free doles out of public money needs to be discouraged and undeserving people should keep out of access to schemes and programmes. There should be enough awareness about schemes among public, especially about the purpose of such schemes and the target beneficiaries.

The community organisations of rural poor should get involved in the process of implementation of schemes for the poor from the very beginning with genuine and transparent identification process.

There are media reports about Government employees who have managed to get BPL and ration cards and identified them as beneficiaries of PMAY.

There are also fake beneficiaries of caste/tribe certificates who manage to get job and admission in educational institutions under seats reserved for SCs, STs and OBCs and even contest elections for reserved seats. Along with usual charges of corruption, bribe, and bureaucratic delays in getting entitlements, the most important are the benefits provided to the rural poor and marginalised ones such as  IAY, NREGS, land distribution, pension, healthcare, social security and food security schemes where complaints of fake beneficiaries getting the benefits of the poor and marginalised are not solved.

The State Government has received 2,300 complaints on false caste certificate from different sources. The Government of Odisha ST and SC Development Department and Home Department have issued model guidelines to inquire the fake caste certificate issued by police.

The cases are mostly found in the districts of Phulbani, Nabarangpur, Balangir, Baragarh and Kalahandi. It is reported by the ST and SC Development Department that the Southern RDC Division has the highest number of cases in comparison to Northern and Central RDC zones. The State Government has formed a State level Scrutiny Committee for its verification and district level vigilance cell to inquire such complaints with legal retainers to facilitate the process. It is unfortunate that one department of Government is issuing caste certificate and the other department is forming vigilance team to verify the certificates.

Why the caste certificate issue process shouldn't not ensure transparency. The fake caste certificate issues are creating social tension among different communities that lead to loss of life and property along with law and order situation.

As many of the Government schemes, programmes and policy initiatives are linked to caste/tribe identity of communities, the fake caste certificate is a matter of concern for the State in ensuring identification of genuine beneficiaries of the respective agenda.

Mostly the development schemes implemented by the State are primarily targeting the rural poor and people of marginalised communities but due to a number of reasons, they have very insignificant role in selection of beneficiaries. Majority of the rural poor are illiterate and unorganised and there has been wide communication gap between the local administration and rural poor.

In spite of direct cash transfer benefit to job card holders of NREGS, in many areas, the district administration has received reports of wage payment to dead persons. It was reported that there were fake beneficiaries and muster rolls being maintained to misuse the funds for rural poor under the employment guaranty programme.

There are a number of popular schemes with Central assistance being misdirected due to the lack of close monitoring. It is found that people having land and regular Government jobs are trying to tap the benefits for the poor by manipulating records through their influence over local Government employees and with backing of ruling party agents. The process of beneficiary selection is one of the important works which has been neglected by the Government officials. There is minimal transparency in selection. In a few cases, a nexus of ruling party workers and local officials leads to selection of fake beneficiaries.

The Panchyati Raj Institutions have a major role in beneficiary selection but they have failed to ensure a transparent beneficiary selection process. The provisions of open discussion for selection of beneficiaries in Gram Sabha are very rarely being followed in the village. The caste and gender barriers in the village restrict the participation of women and Dalits.

Added to this, there have been structural issues such as caste and untouchability practices, poverty, landlessness, illiteracy and lack of access to credit restricting the local employment opportunities to the marginalised communities. The Government programmes for employment generation fail to reach to the job card holders in need of work due to ineffective and none — committed local bureaucracy under the hegemonic control of the local vested interest groups associated with ruling parties.

Mostly rural workers are unorganised and untouched by central trade unions for political mobilisation to increase the bargaining power of the workers. The recent trend shows a growing concern by rights based independent trade unions. A number of studies have revealed that a majority of the rural poor mostly belong to relatively backward regions.

They are historically marginalized, asset less, illiterate and seasonally employed in the primary sector, like agriculture, forest and fishing related works. The primary sector of the State is in feudal mode of production. With all forms of insecurity, the rural producers are always struggling for remunerative price for their products. In distress, they are mobilized by local contractors, money lenders and labour agents to mortgage their job cards so that official records can be managed. The minimum wage provided under Government programmes such as NREGS is very less. The minimum wage rate in Odisha is lowest in the country with unequal rate for men and women.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its report on performance audit on NREGS has expressed concern over the poor implementation of the scheme in the State.

As a step towards regulating the migrant workers it is suggested that there should be a rise in minimum wage for rural unskilled labourers with equal wage for both men and women. The Government should provide land to agricultural workers for self-employment along with social security.

(manasbbsr15@gmail.com)

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