MGNREGS payments over ₹3000 crore pending

Workers under MGNREGS are engaged in cleaning work at a residential area in Palakkad. File   | Photo Credit: K.K. Mustafah

Payments worth ₹3,652. 58 crore are pending towards wages, material and administrative costs under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) as per the latest information on the Rural Development Ministry website. Of this, ₹923 cr is due towards wages for MGNREGS workers across the country.

In 10 States, MGNREGS accounts show a negative balance, indicating that more work was done under the rural employment guarantee scheme than what was paid for by the Centre. The negative balance was the highest for Rajasthan at ₹240.65 cr.

It was reported earlier in some sections of the media that wage payments under MGNREGS had been frozen in 20 States, including Tamil Nadu, as of October 31, 2017. However, officials at the Rural Development department in Tamil Nadu confirmed to The Hindu that the Centre had credited Rs. 575 cr towards the settlement of both wages and cost of material for work undertaken. G. Muthumeenal, a senior official, said the amount was sanctioned by the Centre on November 3. “Wages have been duly transferred to the beneficiary account up to last week,” she said.

Pending FTO orders

Ankita Aggarwal, associated with NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, Jharkhand, said the payment dues situation varied from State to State. It had been pending in up to 20 States, including Jharkhand, where payment had been frozen since September 15.

“Every year, State governments send an audit report to the Centre but this year the report was not submitted by many. This caused the delay. Also the newly introduced National Electronic Fund Management System for the electronic transfer of funds introduced by the Centre led to delays. It also kept the States from using their own revolving funds, until the Central funds were credited,” she explained. In 20 States, the Fund Transfer Order (FTO) had not been approved by the Centre but the matter was being addressed now, she said.

Development economist Jean Dreze said: “If people have worked, they must be paid, that too in good time. Today they are constantly held hostage to lack of funds, Centre-State disputes or technological glitches.”

Fixing accountability

Aparajita Sarangi, Joint Secretary (MGNREGA), Ministry of Rural Development, told The Hindu that there should be some procedure in place when hundreds of crores were being transferred. “We need audit and utilisation certificates for any fund claims made by States under the scheme after October 1, which is the second tranche of fund release. Mid-term reviews were held and papers are being submitted by the States. We take only two days to clear the proposals if the papers are found in order,” she said, adding that Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Chhattisgarh had raised demands recently which had been cleared.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2022 4:17:39 AM |

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