Dismissing charges of any sort of unfair treatment towards Jharkhand on developmental issues, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday said Jharkhand spent only 1,558 crore on MGNREGA programmes.
“There is a propaganda that Jharkhand is being discriminated. It is totally wrong. This year Jharkhand could spend only Rs. 1,558 crore on MGNREGA programmes, though it can spend Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 6,000 crore under MGNREGA as it is a demand-driven programme,” Mr. Ramesh told reporters here.
He said the state should make efforts to take works worth up to Rs. 6,000 crore under MGNREGA.
In comparison to Jharkhand’s fund claim under MGNREGA, he said, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh benefit by Rs. 12,000 crore and Rs. 3000 crore out of the one lakh crore rupees earmarked by Centre for countrywide schemes under the flagship programme.
“Jharkhand should have the capability to spend more funds and Centre will certainly meet the requirements as per the law,” he said adding that “there should be accountability, social audit and transparency in carrying out the works so that infrastructure is visible on the ground”.
The Union Minister, however, said he was not singling out Jharkhand on utilisation of funds in the rural sector; even Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh too should use more money for the benefit of the rural sector.
Mr. Ramesh said he had met Chief Minister Arjun Munda and assured him of all support from Centre in improving rural roads and infrastructural programmes under MGNREGA.
Stating that his department had released Rs. 88 crore, blocked in 2008/09 for want of utilisation certificates (UC) and audit report (AR) on the expenditure, he said the amount was released on condition that the second tranche would be sanctioned only on production of UC and AR.
Expressing disappointment over the alleged slow pace of rural road work under Prime Minister’s Rural Road Scheme, Mr. Ramesh said Rs. 800 crore to Rs. 900 crore should have to be spent this fiscal and expressed hope that the amount would increase to Rs. 2,000 crore in the next three years so that rural road network would be in place.
“The state government has placed a demand for additional rural roads in 1800 habitats, on which a final decision will be taken on October 18 meeting in New Delhi where officials from Jharkhand will also be present,” he said.