Rural Development Commissioner Shashi Bhushan Kumar has revealed that funds to the tune of Rs. 146 crore, meant for implementing the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in the State, has been swindled since the launch of the scheme in 2006.

He noted that the department had recovered nearly Rs. 35 crore out of the total funds that were apparently misappropriated, besides terminating the services of 4,500 employees involved in the embezzlement.

Mr. Kumar was speaking at the opening of a two-day national seminar on the ‘Role of MGNREGS in poverty reduction’, organised by the Department of Business Management, Osmania University, here on Monday.

Providing more insight into the implementation of the scheme, Mr. Kumar said: “We follow a system of social audit in the State which is done annually. In this process, every worker who has been paid is physically met and verified by social auditors. This is to check whether everyone received money and also to see if the workers are also doing their job.”

He added that the website created for the scheme provided updated information about the funds spent on the scheme and its beneficiaries.

More than 57 lakh families or 98 lakh agricultural workers from the State are beneficiaries of MGNREGS in the current financial year, and each worker earns an average of Rs.149 a day. Till date, nearly Rs.28,000 crore has been spent on the scheme in the State.

AICC Secretary G. Chinna Reddy said, “Due to the scheme, the spending capacity of agricultural labourers has increased. They need to invest in asset creation to get out of poverty, and I have requested officials to counsel these beneficiaries."

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