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MGNREGA becomes a symbol of corruption

Author: Rajeev Sharma
Publication: Organiser
Date: May 27, 2012
URL: http://www.organiser.org/Encyc/2012/5/20/MGNREGA-BECOMES-A-SYMBOL-OF-CORRUPTION.aspx

The UPA government’s flagship scheme Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) has run into a serious trouble of corruption, poor implementation and under-utilisation of funds, as a result of which Union Rural Development Minister has drastically slashed down the annual budget for the scheme from Rs 40000 crore to Rs 30000 crore per annum and threatened to reduce it further if the States do not put their act together, sources told this correspondent on May 15.

However, on the issue of corruption over implementation of MGNREGA, Ramesh threw his hands up and referring to the corruption in the implementation of the rural job scheme in some of the states, he said the Centre can do very little to curb this menace and it is upto the state governments and particularly the Gram Panchayats to take the lead in fighting corruption. He said, from time to time state governments are apprised of the reports of the Central Teams regarding irregularities, if any, for corrective action.

Now, in a first, the Performance Audit of MGNREGA for all the States will be placed before parliament in November this year, Ramesh told the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. Sources said initially the MGNREGA performance audit of five states – Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Chhatisgarh – will be placed before parliament. On May 13, the Supreme Court had directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the alleged misappropriation of MGNREGA funds from the state’s 100 villages spread over six districts during 2006-07.

Ramesh went on record in the house in singling out three states -- Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha – for their unsatisfactory implementation of MGNREGA. He told the upper house that despite poverty and unemployment in the three eastern states, demand for rural job is not so much as in the other well-to-do states. He said, efforts are being made to strengthen the Gram Panchayats in these states, which is the nodal agency for the implementation of MGNREGA. Since April 1, 2012, the wage rates for the MGNREGA works have been revised upwards for all the states and union territories and is now linked with the Consumer Price Index for Agricultural Labour( CPIAL). The revision indexed to CPIAL would be done annually and the revision would become effective on April 1 each year.

Ramesh said the performance audit is presently on in all the states and his Ministry will receive the draft report by October end. The Performance Audit of MGNREGA will cover the period from 2007 to 2011. From this year it will be compulsory for every Gram Panchayat to be certified by a Chartered Accountant, drawn up from a district level panel prepared by Comptroller and Auditor General, CAG.
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