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Social audits of rural job plan ‘largely ineffective’: Ramesh

The mandatory social audits prescribed under the MGNREGA Act have been ‘largely ineffective’ in bringing to light any irregularities in the implementation of the Centre’s ambitious rural job scheme, government on Monday said.

Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, however, told Rajya Sabha that social audits had been effectively conducted in states like Andhra Pradesh and Sikkim.

In a written reply, the minister said that to streamline the process for social audits, government has issued the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (Audit of Schemes) Rules, 2011, in consultation with the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

‘Steps are being taken to establish social audit societies and train personnel so that such audits may be done in accordance with the rules,’ Ramesh said.

Asked about the alternative arrangements proposed to check irregularities, he said that independent monitoring and verification was being done by National Level Monitors (NLMs) as well as area officers in cases of specific complaints.

He, however, dismissed suggestions that there had been a steady decline in the performance of the rural job scheme.

‘There are variations in demand for work from year to year, but there is no decline. The wage employment provided has increased from 218.76 crore person days in 2011-12 to 229.86 crore person days in 2012-13,’ he said.

MGNREGA is a demand-driven programme where the demand for work itself is influenced by factors such as rainfall pattern, availability of alternative and remunerative employment opportunities outside of the rural job scheme and prevailing unskilled wage rates, he said.

‘Government is actively working with state governments to establish systems that ensure provision of work as per demand, (with) transparency and accountability,’ Ramesh added.
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