States Round Up Issue-01 July to September 2010 Index Page
Full version of the report

Rajasthan



I. Highlight: Corruption hampers NREGA

During July-September 2010, corruption in the utilization of Mahatma National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) funds came to focus in Rajasthan. Rajasthan is one of the largest spenders under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). As per statistics in the Scheme’s website maintained by the Ministry of Rural Development, the State Government of Rajasthan spent nearly Rs.4823.53 crores during May-September 2010. [1] It spent Rs.6,164.4 crore during the fiscal year 2008-2009 and about Rs 5,669.03 crore  in 2009-10. [2]

Following complaints of corruption, Rajasthan Rural Development Minister Bharat Singh reportedly instructed NREGS Commissioner, Tanmay Kumar to order auditing in eight panchayat samitis under Kekari Assembly segment in Ajmer district in July 2010. [3]

A special audit conducted by the state government reportedly detected irregularities adding up to Rs 6.2 crore in the implementation of the NREGS in 30 panchayats spread over nearly all districts of the state. The audit focused on just the material expenditure component, and was carried out in panchayats in which this component was large, chosen to cover almost the entire state. [4]  It was reported that cases of irregularities and corruption have been registered against some sarpanches. [5]

Wage entitlement under the NREGS is Rs.100 per day. But workers of Gudlia Gaon under Rupbas Panchayat of Tonk district were paid only Re.1 per day as wage [6], while the money has been either diverted for clandestine procurement of material components like computers, laptops etc or misappropriated through payment of wages to fictitious workers.

In the past few years, the four districts of Tonk, Dungarpur, Dausa and Hanumangarh reportedly purchased desktops and laptops worth Rs 3.83 crore using the NREGS fund. In Tonk district, computers worth Rs 1.5 crore were purchased by the zilla parishad in 2008-09 allegedly for villages which did not even have electricity. In Dungarpur, 210 computers, 210 printers and 210 UPS were purchased for Rs 85 lakh by the then District Collector Dr Arushi A Malik from a computer dealer. Similarly, computers worth Rs 78.29 lakh and Rs 79.21 lakh were purchased by the districts of Dausa and Hanumangarh respectively from various dealers in violation of norms when no scheme was even formulated for the use of these computers in the employment guarantee scheme. [7]

File noting obtained under the Right to Information Act, 2005 revealed that Rural Development Minister Bharat Singh indicted not only ordinary officials but also the District Collectors. No action was however taken against any of the collectors and most of them though now have been transferred but orders such as their suspension had been put in the cold storage. [8]

II. Violations of civil and political rights

Asian Centre for Human Rights documented couple of violations of civil and political rights in Rajasthan.

On 20 September 2010, one person was reportedly killed while another seriously injured in firing by police at Manohar Thana in Jhalawar district. The police reportedly opened fire to control a 2,000-strong crowd protesting against alleged rape of a girl by assailants belonging to a minority community on 17 September 2010. [9] The Rajasthan Government ordered a probe into the firing to be conducted by the Divisional Commissioner of Kota. [10]

In September 2010, Anil Aran, a freelance journalist, was implicated in a false case of disruption of peace and harmony and put into jail allegedly at the behest of an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) probationer, Tina Soni. [11] The IAS probationer was reportedly unhappy with the scribe reporting about aggravating water crisis in Mount Abu in the case of Governor Shivraj Patil staying in the hill station with his entourage for 10 days during a visit. After the news report, Patil cut short his visit to two days. [12]  Enraged with the news reports, the IAS probationer issued orders to demolish Anil’s house on the pretext that it was not regularized. When his younger brother Sunil Aran went to the IAS probationer with the documents of the house, he was allegedly beaten up by the police and Sunil had to be rushed to the hospital. When Anil went to see his younger brother, he was arrested and sent to jail. [13]

III. Violations of the rights of the child

Rajasthan government failed to address the problems of child labour.

Each year thousands of tribal children from the four districts - Udaipur, Dungarpur, Banswara and Sirohi districts were reportedly trafficked to adjoining prosperous Sabarkantha or Banaskantha districts of Gujarat. Children as young as seven are brought to Gujarat to work in cotton fields of the rich cotton farmers in Sabarkantha or Banaskantha districts. Dungarpur District Collector, Purna Chandra Kishan acknowledged that some 30,000 children were sent across the border in 2009. Udaipur District Collector Anand Kumar put the number of such trafficked child labourer from his district at 25,000 during 2009. [14]

On 19 July 2010, police raided different places in Dungarpur and Udaipur districts and recovered 57 children and have arrested 12 persons for trafficking of children to work in BT cottonseed farms in neighbouring Gujarat. [15]

In 2009 a team from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights visited Udaipur and Dungarpur districts and suggested remedial measures to the state authorities to arrest the menace. At a recent meeting in 2010, the governments of Rajasthan and Gujarat agreed to set up check-posts along the border between Rajasthan and Gujarat. Task forces and a control room were formed, night patrolling and joint inspections were conducted and raids on the Bt cotton farms held. Schools have been asked to report any child absent from school for more than five days. Yet, the jeeps known to carry the child labourers were found plying in the night and traffickers known as “mates” scouting children were reportedly seen in the village of Mata Ghati, 8 km north of the Gujarat border. [16]

IV. Violations of the rights of minorities

During July and September 2010, Muslim minorities of Sarada town under Udaipur district came under attack following the murder of a Meena tribal youth, Mohan Meena allegedly by a member of minority community. Hundreds of persons belonging to the Bhil and Meena tribal communities attacked the members of the minority community on 26 July 2010. [17]

About 70 families belonging to the minority communities were displaced as assailants burnt down their houses and they are living as refugees. On 24 August 2010 Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot ordered an inquiry into the violence and directed Aparna Arora, Divisional Commissioner of Udaipur district to conduct the inquiry. The Government had also announced a compensation of over Rs.11 lakh to those whose houses and shops were burnt during the attacks. [18] However, the victims continued to live in fear at camps despite police protection. The level of fear was such that mosques, which are usually illuminated during Ramzan, wore a deserted look. The Imam, fearing backlash, stopped reciting Azaan and Quran on loudspeakers. The only government school saw a decline in the number of Muslim students after the incident. Many of the students fled to Udaipur. [19]

On 13 September 2010, an 18-member team of the All-India Citizens Committee met the affected families and demanded a judicial inquiry into the violence and payment of compensation to the victims whose houses were allegedly looted and set on fire. The team led by Shabnam Hashmi of Act Now for Harmony and Democracy alleged that the State Government was not making any effort to rehabilitate the victims and render justice to them. It demanded that the security arrangements in the town should be improved. [20]

V. Violations of the ESCRs
a. Violations of the right to health

Delivery of health services remained very poor. In July 2010, taking suo motu cognizance of media reports regarding thalassaemic children being subjected to infected blood in Jodhpur city of Rajasthan, the National Human Rights Commission issued notices to the Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, State Government of Rajastan, calling for a report within one month. The state government had reportedly formed a panel led by the State AIDS Control Society director stressing on the need for adopting advanced techniques of blood donation but to no avail. Five children were reportedly found HIV positive and 29 with hepatitis C in Jodhpur on 28 December 2008 and another three more were found HIV positive and 17 others with Hepatitis C on 8 May 2010. [21]

The strike called by the doctors in September 2010 further paralyzed the health system across the state.

On 5 September 2010, the doctors across the state were on strike after the police allegedly resorted to lathicharge on medicos at the MDM College in Jodhpur on September 4th. Almost 3,500 resident doctors in all the six government medical colleges and its attached hospitals in Rajasthan were on strike, but Jodhpur was the worst hit. Over 60 students and doctors were injured in the incident. The Resident doctors claimed that the police lathicharged them following a minor scuffle among a few doctors and attendants of a patient. Some doctors were also arrested but later released. On 7 September 2010, the strike was called off following talks with the state government. But, the strike across the state claimed the lives of at least 50 patients, 31 in Jodhpur alone. [22]

Endnotes:
1. http://nrega.nic.in/netnrega/home.aspx
2. ‘In best NREG state, 20% defrauded’, The Indian Express, 28 September 2010
3. Rajasthan Minister, PCC honcho in NREG tussle, The Pioneer, 19 July 2010
4. ‘In best NREG state, 20% defrauded’, The Indian Express, 28 September 2010
5. Rajasthan Minister, PCC honcho in NREG tussle, The Pioneer, 19 July 2010
6. MNREGA workers peeved at being paid Re. 1, The Hindu, 28 September 2010
7. NREGA fund misused for purchasing laptops, computers, The Hindustan Times, 23 August 2010
8. Ibid
9. One killed in Jhalawar police firing, The Hindu, 21 September 2010
10. Police firing victims cremated amid tension, The Hindu, 22 September 2010
11. Scribe kept in jail for 5 days, The Times of India, 27 September 2010
12. Whistleblower scribe lands in Mt Abu jail, The Times of India, 27 September 2010
13. Scribe kept in jail for 5 days, The Times of India, 27 September 2010
14. Re 1 per hour: Children fuel Bt cotton boom, The Hindustan Times, 19 July 2010
15. 12 held for trafficking 57 children to Gujarat, The Asian Age, 19 July 2010
16. Re 1 per hour: Children fuel Bt cotton boom, The Hindustan Times, 19 July 2010
17. Probe ordered into Sarada violence, The Hindu, 25 August 2010
18. Ibid
19. Sarada riot victims live in fear, The Times of India, 6 September 2010
20. Judicial probe demanded into violence, The Hindu, 15 September 2010
21. NHRC seeks report on infected blood to thalassaemic kids, The Hindu, 21 July 2010
22. Rajasthan doctors call off strike after 50 die, IBN Live, 7 September 2010
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