A recent CAG report tells a sorry tale about MGNREGS in Bihar

A whopping 83 per cent households in Bihar did not get 100 days of employment and over half of them went without any job at all from 2007 to 2012, a special report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in Bihar has revealed.

The report was released and tabled in the State legislature recently.

In 15 sample districts (out of the total 38 districts) under study, the CAG found that “maximum 17 per cent households were provided 100 days’ jobs during 2007-2012”. Madhubani came last in the list with an abysmal employment generation rate of “below one per cent” and Begusarai registered the highest with just seven per cent, “which is too low”.

Making matters worse, the agency recorded “a remarkable decreasing trend” in providing jobs. The job provision rate dropped sharply from 75 per cent in 2007-2008 to 20 per cent in 2011-2012.

“It is evident that the primary purpose of the scheme, i.e. to enhance livelihood security by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment was not achieved. Only one to seven per cent registrants were provided 100 days of employment,” the report states.

The agency recorded serious irregularities in terms of non-payment of wages, unspent amount of grant, non-release or delay in release of funds, excess consumption of material over wages and many other lacunae at the local level. As a result 76.42 man-days of work could not be created in Bihar.

“There were deficiencies in planning, execution, fund management, grievance redressal mechanism, monitoring and training in implementation of MGNREGS in the State. Key records such as application register, muster roll register, asset register and employment register were not maintained,” the report adds.

In a survey of 1,997 beneficiaries, the CAG found that “photographs were not affixed on 37 per cent of the job cards and in 26 per cent of the cases, payment of wages entered in the job cards did not tally with the amount credited to their accounts.” The agency also found multiple job cards issued to same households.

For instance, in Begusarai district, wages were deposited in the personal accounts of the working agencies first. The amount was remitted to the post office through personal cheques, but the cheques were subsequently dishonoured due to insufficient balance on the agency’s account.

A lot of “wasteful expenditure” was geared towards plantation schemes. Despite this, the audit observed that “the entire plantation work almost failed in the sampled districts”.