Govt stops MGNREGA funds for Punjab, MP

The Ministry of Rural Development has stopped the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Act (MGNREGA) funds for Madhya Pradesh and Punjab. This decision was taken by the ministry after the Madhya Pradesh government was unable to spend the allocated amount under MGNREGA. In the case of Punjab, the state government has not released funds to different districts.

The Madhya Pradesh government was allocated Rs 4,882.29 crore for MGNREGA for the financial year 2011-12, however the state was able to utilise only Rs 3,398.27 crore and thus still has an unspent amount of Rs 1,484.02 crore with it.

'The state government has still not given us the balance sheet on how it has spent the money; neither has it told us what it will do with the unspent amount,' a senior official in the ministry said. The officer adds that money from the central government will not be disbursed till the time the state government comes clear on existing funds. The Madhya Pradesh government has already demanded more funds from the central government for MGNREGA.

In Punjab, the funds have been disbursed only to three districts out of 22: Sangrur has got Rs 44.44 lakh, Kapurthala Rs 27.78 lakh and Taran Taran Rs 23.33 lakh. Under MGNREGA, the state government has to bear 25 per cent of the cost on material component and skilled labour. The Punjab government has been allocated Rs 199.99 crore by the centre, but the state has contributed only Rs 95.55 lakh so far.

Officials in the ministry say that the state have shown a lackadaisical attitudes when it comes to disbursing their share for MGNREGA. 'We decided that till the time the state government does not contribute its share of quota for MGNREGA, the central government will not allocate any more funds,' says the official from the ministry.

MGNREGA funds are caught in bureaucratic tangles. Its repercussions could be felt by the people at the ground level, says a ministry official. 'This freezing of funds may lead to a stalling of MGNREGA work at the ground, but we don't seem to have a solution,' says a senior official in the ministry.
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