The Supreme Court on Friday favoured creation of a nodal agency to oversee implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), in view of the allegation that benefits of the scheme were not reaching the intended beneficiaries.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justice Swatanter Kumar said there was a need for a nodal agency at the Centre for assuring that the guidelines required to be followed for implementation of the scheme is not given a go-bye.
It said it will help in bringing transparency in the project as well as accountability for violating the provisions of the scheme.
The Bench said there was a need for social audit of the scheme as there have been allegations that job cards and wages are not given properly.
“We are here to implement social audit. How is the government implementing it?” the Bench wanted to know and posted the matter for further hearing on September 20.
Earlier, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for an NGO, drew the attention of the Bench that job cards and wages under the scheme was not reaching to the intended beneficiaries and employment guaranteed under it was also kept away from the people who need it.
The NGO, Centre for Environment and Food Security (CEFS), which alleged that guidelines are not being followed properly, also placed before it the survey report prepared by it to suggest anomalies in implementation of the MGNREGA.
The Centre said it would place the instructions to be followed by the State government about the scheme on the Website of Ministry of Rural Development.
The Supreme Court, during the last hearing on April 7, had said the money under the scheme was not reaching intended beneficiaries and in many cases going to wrong hands.
It had said several projects under the scheme are failing as the funds allocated for them either remain unutilised or in many cases money lands up in wrong hands.
The Supreme Court was earlier told that while some States in North-Eastern region and Andhra Pradesh have done a good job in implementing the rural employment scheme, others are far behind.
It was pointed out that most of the States have failed to put in place the details as to conduct of social auditing.
The PIL filed in 2007 alleged the project, which was implemented in September 2005 with a view to provide 100 days of guaranteed employment to at least one member of each rural household, suffers from large-scale corruption and mismanagement.
CEFS contended that various organisations, including itself, conducted a field study on the working of the MGNREGA, which revealed that the scheme under the Act is marred by corruption due to non-transparency in implementation and entry of private contractors who are banned under the Act.
The NGO had earlier submitted that the District Collector/Magistrate should be made responsible for effective implementation of the project.
The study shows “most of the funds allocated for the implementation of the Act and schemes there under do not reach intended recipients and are instead siphoned off by corrupt officials and contractors, denying lakhs of poor people their fundamental right to livelihood.”
The scheme, which was started as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in 2005, was later named after Mahatma Gandhi in October 2009 by the Prime Minister.