Social activist and NAC member Aruna Roy has stressed on the need for a mechanism to gauge the effectiveness of MGNREGA and the challenges before it.
In a petition to NAC chairperson Sonia Gandhi on MGNREGA, she said, "there has been no serious examination of the mechanisms of administrative failure at the lower levels, or of the soft responses of the government to proven cases of failure to
deliver, including corruption."
Stressing on providing "basic rights" to the beneficiaries of the programme, she said, "it requires very strong commitment and signals from the highest levels of authority to see that the basic rights under the MGNREGA are actualised."
Roy said new guidelines should be operationalised, but there was a need to go beyond that.
The implementation of MGNREGA came up for evaluation before the panel in its meeting on Friday where members observed that with the threat of a failed monsoon and an impending drought, the need for public works may arise in many states.
Whistleblower And Grievance Redressal Bills
In her letter to NAC Chief Sonia Gandhi, Aruna Roy also said that the government\\\’s actions convey "the impression that the government is not at all serious about issues of accountability and corruption."
Ms Roy also asked NAC chief Sonia Gandhi to ensure early passage of Whistleblowers Protection and Grievance Redress bills in Parliament as delay would convey the impression that government is "not serious" about accountability and corruption.
She said while last year was dominated by discussions on transparency, accountability and anti–corruption legislations, the Lokpal controversy has held up the passage of some other important and non controversial legislations.
"Despite RTI users and activists being attacked and even killed at regular intervals, the Whistleblower Protection Bill remains stuck in the Rajya Sabha, after having been passed by the Lok Sabha," she said.
Roy said while the Lokpal Bill and the Judicial Accountability Bill are also important, they are more disputed and controversial.
"However, not passing the Whistleblower Protection Bill and the Grievance Redress Bill on an urgent basis only conveys the impression that the government is not at all serious about issues of accountability and corruption.
Aruna Roy has sought NAC Chairperson Sonia Gandhi\\\’s intervention to ensure closure of a highway to end exploitation of the ancient tribe.
"This highway (the Andaman Trunk Road) caused widespread encroachment; poaching and commercial exploitation of Jarawa lands and has lead to tourists expressively taking this route to ogle at the Jarawa people," she said.
Even though the Supreme Court in 2002 ordered that a highway passing through the reserve be closed and an alternative sea route has been suggested by the Andaman administration and a sub-group of the NAC, this has not been implemented, she said.
"I urge you to ensure that the Andaman administration implements this ruling and shuts down this road immediately," Roy said.
Fivefold increase in license fee of Community Radio
Aruna Roy has also submitted a petition to Sonia Gandhi opposing the five-fold increase in licence fee for community radio.
The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has increased the license fee from Rs. 19,700 to Rs. 91,000.
In her petition she said, “Community Radio is a powerful tool for poor, not-for-profit companies meant to serve society. There have enormous benefits as an information and communication tool and are being used to great effect all over the country. Besides, a landmark judgment of the Supreme Court (Ministry of Information and Broadcasting vs Cricket Association of Bengal case 1995), held that freedom of speech and expression included the right to acquire and disseminate information and that airwaves were public property and have to be used for the benefit of society at large.”
“Community radio operators have been petitioning since then for an exemption in spectrum fees and are now instead faced with this mammoth fee increase, which will surely kill this fledgling initiative, she said.