M A I N   N E W S

Ombudsmen to keep tabs on NREGA scheme
Ravi Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, May 30
Now, ombudsmen will keep an eye on the disbursal of funds for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) scheme in Punjab. The ombudsmen will act in an independent manner as envisaged under Section 27 of the scheme.

A Punjab government spokesman confirmed that the ombudsmen had been appointed for 2 years and this could be extended further depending upon the performance.

The government has appointed six ombudsmen who will cover all 20districts of Punjab. Deshbir Sharma will look after Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Hoshiarpur districts, Ramesh Kumar will oversee functioning in Ludhiana, Sangrur and Barnala districts, Jitenderpal Singh Cheema will look after Fatehgarh Sahib, Patiala, Mohali and Ropar districts.

Bathinda, Mansa and Faridkot will have Dalbir Singh as their ombudsman while Brij Lal Nagpal will look after Moga, Ferozpur andMuktsar district. Jalandhar, Nawanshahr and Kapurthala districts will be looked after by Parkash Singh Lamey.

These ombudsmen have been appointed by a selection committee comprising Chief Secretary, a representative of the Union Rural Development Ministry and Secretary, state Nodal Department looking after the NREGA scheme in Punjab.

They will be paid Rs 500 per sitting and will look into complaints from NREGA workers and also have powers to lodge FIRs against erring government officials.

A government spokesman disclosed that only those individuals had been appointed ombudsmen who had at least 20 years of experience in public administration, law, academics and social work.

Primarily, their work will be to look into complaints pertaining to registration of households and issue of job cards, payment of wages and complaints relating to facilities present at work sites.

The government has given them wide ranging powers which include issuing of directions to government officials to conduct spot investigation and lodging of FIRs against erring government functionaries.

They will be reporting their findings to the Chief Secretary and Secretary, state Nodal Department, for taking appropriate legal action against government functionaries. A monthly report will also be sent to the Chief Secretary’s office which will be accompanied by primary evidence needed to initiate action against delinquent persons.

With the appointment of ombudsmen, the government hopes to put a check on corrupt practices that have plagued the NREGA scheme ever since it was launched by the Central Government.

The government is also contemplating appointing ombudsmen for yet another Centre-sponsored schemes — the Indira Awaas Yojna.

They will also look into allegations that job cards in the rural areas were being distributed among people aligned to the SAD-BJP combine and the people, who had backed Congress candidates in assembly and parliamentary elections, were denied such job cards.





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