Development works will be taken up using these funds, says Principal Secretary, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj.

Principal Secretary, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, Amitha Prasad, has said the State Government has decided to merge the funds available under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) with funds available under other schemes and take up development works in the State.

Speaking to presspersons here on Saturday, Ms. Prasad said that the Dharwad Zilla Panchayat had merged MNREGA funds with those under the National Horticulture Mission (NHM) and State Government programmes and taken up development activities. The experiment had been appreciated by the Union Government, she said.

“We have decided to extend this experiment to all zilla panchayats in the State for effective utilisation of MNREGA funds,” Ms. Prasad said.

As per the conditions, development works cannot be taken up using MNREGA funds Hence, merging of MNREGA funds with those available under other programmes had been envisaged, she said.

If the MNREGA funds could be utilised for land development and soil conservation, the funds under the NHM could be used to plant horticultural crops.

Similarly, the MNREGA funds could be used to lay metal roads and the zilla panchayat funds available under the road development head could be used to asphalt them.

Cut in allocation

On the cut in allocation under MNREGA to the State for the current year, Ms. Prasad said the Union Government had cut the labour budget due to failure of the zilla, taluk and gram panchayats to provide details sought under the Management Information System (MIS).

“ But there is still hope. If the State spends more than 60 per cent of the allocated funds by September-end, it will receive additional funds,” Ms. Prasad said.

She said that the State Government had decided to take steps to prevent complaints of misappropriation and lack of proper utilisation of MNREGA funds by introducing third party audit and inspection of the works executed under the scheme. Ms. Prasad said the Government had initiated third party inspection and auditing of works taken up in Gulbarga and Tumkur districts during 2009-10, following complaints of misappropriation and lack of proper utilisation of funds.

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