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CAG casts doubts on MGNREGA spendings

CAG casts doubts on MGNREGA spendings
The audit, which covers the period between April 2007 to March 2012, has been critical of the scheme for diversion of funds, projects taken which were not permissible and instances of works abandoned midway or not completed for a significant period.

‘Works of Rs 2,252.43 crore, which were undertaken under the scheme, were not permissible. It was seen that 7,69,575 works amounting to Rs 4,070.76 crore were incomplete even after one to five years into the projects. It was also noted that expenditure on works amounting to Rs 6,547.35 crore did not result in creation of asset,’ stated the CAG report, which was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.

The audit report also pointed out the deficiencies of the ministry of rural development in the approval and release of funds. ‘In fact, in 2010-11, the ministry relaxed all conditionalities (except furnishing utilisation certificate) associated with the release of funds. No basis for this decision was provided by the ministry. As a result, Rs 1,960.45 crore were released in the month of March 2011 alone, without exercising proper financial controls,’ stated the report. The report claims that the release of grants in excess of demand was in fact breach of the conditionalities set by the ministry itself.

The aspect of declining employment under MGNREGA was also noted by the CAG, with the report stating that employment generated declined from 283.59 crore person days in 2009-10 to 216.34 crore person days in 2011-12. The per rural household employment also declined from 54 days in 2009-10 to 43 days in 2011-12.

Expressing concern over the number of works being completed as compared to number of works being taken up the CAG in its report said that the number of works which have been completed has declined by 28 percent in 2011-12 with reference to the previous year. ‘The decline in per household employment generation and in completion of works indicates a disturbing trend in achieving the primary objective of the scheme that is providing livelihood security and creation of assets,’ noted the report.

The report also observed that Bihar, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, which constituted 46 per cent of the rural poor, accounted for only 20 per cent of the total funds released under the scheme. This indicated that the correlation between poverty levels and implementation of MGNREGA was not very high, noted the CAG.

The CAG, while making a pitch for centralised monitoring of the rural job scheme, said that the Act makes the ministry legally responsible for monitoring the scheme. The report while being critical noted that though the ministry had set up a central employment guarantee council to monitor and suggest improvements, ‘It was seen that the Council had done little in terms of monitoring of the scheme’ stated the report.

Commenting on the CAG, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said ‘It is a performance audit, it is not a financial audit, it’s not a forensic audit...In the past 30 years, I have never seen the CAG give a positive observation.’

DOWN THE DRAIN
  • No correlation between poverty levels and implementation of MGNREGA

  • Bihar, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, which constitute 46 per cent of the rural poor, accounted for only 20 per cent of the total funds released

  • Employment under scheme declined from 283.59 crore person days in 2009-10 to 216.34 crore person days in 2011-12

  • Works amounting to Rs 6,547.35 crore did not result in creation of assets
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