Poorest unable to exercise rights fully under NREGA, says CAG

New Delhi, April 23 (IANS) The poorest of poor were not able to exercise their rights fully under the job guarantee act and several irregularities have been noticed in works and procedures under the government’s ambitious scheme, a CAG report tabled in parliament Tuesday said.

The Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report said that widespread instances of non-payment and delayed payment of wages have been noticed in 23 states under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

It said that the per rural household employment declined from 54 days in 2009-10 to 43 days in 2011-12. There was also a substantial decline in the proportion of works completed in 2011-12.

It said that instances of works abandoned midway or not completed for a significant period were noticed.

“Works of Rs.2,252.43 crore, which were undertaken under the scheme, were not permissible. It was seen that 7,69,575 works amounting to Rs.4,070.76 crore were incomplete even after one to five years. It was also noted that expenditure on works amounting to Rs.6,547.35 crore did not result in creation of durable assets,” the report said.

The report said that an analysis of releases made to states for the period April 2007 to March 2012 and poverty data showed that three states – Bihar, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh – had 46 percent of the rural poor in India but accounted for only 20 percent of the total funds released under the scheme.

“This would indicate that the poorest of poor were not fully able to exercise their rights under MGNREGS,” the report said.

It said that correlation between poverty levels and implementation of the scheme was not very high.

The CAG report also indicted the rural development ministry, saying that it relaxed all conditionalities and released a sum of Rs.1,960.45 crore in March 2011 to the states, contravening norms of financial accountability.

“An amount of Rs.4,072.99 crore was released by the ministry during 2008-12 to states for use in the subsequent financial years, in contravention of budgetary provisions. Excess funds of Rs.2,374.86 crore were released by the ministry to six states, either due to wrong calculation or without taking note of the balances available with the states,” the report said.

It said there were significant inefficiencies in the implementation of the annual plans.

“In 14 states and one UT, 129.22 lakh works amounting to Rs.1,26,961.11 crore were approved in the annual plans. Of these, only 30 percent of planned works were completed during the audit period,” the report said.

The CAG said despite NREGA being in force for seven years, governments of Haryana, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh did not formulate rules for carrying out provisions of the act, as of March 2012.

The report noted that job cards were not issued to 12,455 households in six states, photographs were not found pasted on 4.33 lakh job cards in seven states, there were multiple job cards in the name of the same person in 18,325 cases and there were delays in issue of job cards ranging up to 51 months in 12,008 cases.

The CAG said unemployment allowance was not paid in 47,687 cases and non-payment of wages of Rs.36.97 crore was noticed in 14 states.

The report said there were cases of suspected misappropriation of funds of Rs.128.23 crore in eight states and tampering with muster rolls was noticed in 10 states.

Noting that monitoring at the central level was unsatisfactory, the CAG report said the central council could not fulfill its statutory mandate of establishing a central evaluation and monitoring system even after six years of its existence.

The MGNREGS provides for 100 days of wage employment to every rural household willing to take up manual labour.

The performance audit by the CAG was taken up in response to a request from the rural development ministry and covered the period from April 2007 to March 2012.

Implementation of the scheme was checked in 3,848 panchayats in 28 states and four Union Territories.

–Indo-Asian news Service

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