Roop Choudhury GOALPARA, May 19 - Rural development in Goalpara district has been adversely affected by corruption. The persistent problem of underdevelopment in the district is highly correlated to corruption at every level of the society – be it bureaucratic or political – which ultimately exacerbates poverty in the rural areas.Serious efforts to eradicate corruption and special attention while implementing Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) schemes across the district seem to be lacking even though the Assam Government has adopted a policy of zero tolerance against corruption in the State.
A road from Kamaleswar Rabha’s house to Kopina with paver blocks at Goraimari village built under the MGNREGA Scheme. – Photos: Goalpara Correspondent
This correspondent while on a visit to some rural areas of the district found that some of the works under MGNREGA were incomplete and local people when contacted demanded probe into the allegations of corruption in the implementation of these schemes.
A rural road construction scheme at Shantibazar to Ganga Rabha house, work ID no 0404001005/RC/202205 (total amount of Rs 7,22,000/-) at Baidamguri village under Kalyanpur panchayat is yet to be completed. Surprisingly, around 90 job card holders were engaged for the work for eight days in the month of December, 2017 but till now no payment has been made to the job card holders nor has the work been completed according to Sapan Rabha, a local from the area.
Another scheme which this correspondent visited is at a nearby place, a few hundred metres away at Goraimari village. Construction of a road from Kamaleswar Rabha’s house to Kopina was to be completed under MGNREGA with paver blocks, (work ID no 0404001005) with 822 number of mandays. Here, serious allegations of corruption have been levelled against the implementing agency. Except for a little bit of earth work bringing cosmetic changes to the road and approximately a truckload of stone and rubbish unloaded and strewn in a portion of the road, there are no signs of paver blocks on the road. Phanindra Rabha, a local told this correspondent that around 50 job card holders were engaged at the work site for three days in the month of December, 2017 for which no payment has been made so far leave aside completing the work according to specifications.
Another work this correspondent visited last month, by the name ‘Renovation of fishery tank near Smashan ghat at Thakurbilla’ under Dwarka GP with AP Level as the executing agency at an estimated amount of Rs 4.65 lakh, with 1640 mandays remains incomplete with no water in the tank seen by the naked eye. Local people have alleged that they were not engaged by the agency despite having job cards.
On the other hand, a surprising feature is the quality of work and assets created under MGNERGA on the other side of the border, i.e., in Meghalaya which is far superior to the quality of works implemented here in Goalpara district especially in road construction. The reasons for the inferior quality of works here are not exactly known but there are serious allegations of embezzlement of funds, corruption and improper implementation of most of the developmental schemes in the rural area, a social activist and secretary DYFI, Parvez Ali said.