Delay in releasing MGNREGS wage arrears hits 15 lakh families

Centre has to pay ₹1,000-crore dues to the State

The alleged delay of the Central government in releasing the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) wage and material cost arrears of ₹1,000 crore due to the State has left about 15 lakh below poverty line (BPL) families in the lurch.

The arrears comprises wages of ₹860 crore and material cost and administrative expenses of ₹140 crore. Payment of wages has been indefinitely held up at a time when the State is trying to overcome the pangs of rural poverty, price hike of essentials, job loss due to economic slow down and such other major ills.

Women suffer

About 95% of the 12.98 lakh workers registered under the scheme are women and the lapse in releasing the wages would push them to the verge of poverty yet again. Kerala is one State that had set a model worth emulating for others in taking up projects for creating durable assets and providing maximum employment to the indigent and marginalised sections. The scheme had come as a blessing to a legion of families that are striving hard to eke out a living.

Audit reports

Local Self-Government Department sources told The Hindu that the audit reports have been submitted and replies to queries have also been furnished within the time set by the Centre. All other procedures, including inspections, have been completed and a decision to recover ₹25 lakh in connection with some of the works completed under the scheme have been approved. Still, the payment is being delayed without attributing any valid reason.

The Local Self-Government Department Principal Secretary had apprised the Centre of the issue on December 3 and was learnt to have wrested an assurance for releasing the funds soon, but the Centre had not heeded such moves so far, sources said.

This is in addition to the Central decision to defer the payment of Goods and Services Tax compensation of ₹3,600 crore due to the State for the past two months on the premise that the collections are too low.

The delay would also have a serious impact on the execution of a slew of projects, mainly watershed development, initiated under the scheme, sources said.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 5:38:16 AM |

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