Against the backdrop of alleged irregularities in implementation of MNREGA in Uttar Pradesh, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh today said the onus was also on the states to keep a “strict vigil” to prevent misuse of central funds and rein in corruption.

Mr. Ramesh also said that social audit and CAG audit report would come in handy to maintain better vigil and to check graft in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme (MNREGA) and Indira Awas Yojna (IAY).

Talking to reporters during a two-day visit to Bihar, Mr. Ramesh said the annual expenditure of the Union Rural Development ministry was over Rs. 88,500 crore and they have decided to involve CAG for monitoring this.

Social audit and audit by CAG will rein in corruption in the flagship programme, he said.

“The state governments should also keep strict vigil to avoid misuse of the funds under MNREGA and IAY,” he said.

Mr. Ramesh spoke about the responsibility of the states while referring to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s recent statement where he had alleged that mukhiyas and representatives of other Panchayati raj institutions were involved in misuse of funds under MNREGA and IAY and were buying luxury vehicles.

Describing misuse of MNREGA funds as a matter of serious concern, he said it was a demand-based scheme and the Centre used to provide funds on the basis of the demands of the states.

Expressing unhappiness over states like Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha lagging behind in the execution of MNREGA, he said MNREGA was meant for extremely poor states.

“It is a matter of serious concern that these states lag behind states like Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan in execution of the centrally sponsored schemes,” Mr. Ramesh said.

Mr. Ramesh extended his support to the demand for giving privilege (concessions) to the state governments on the basis of priority under centrally-sponsored schemes.

“I think it will be implemented during the 12th five-year plan period,” he said.