‘Direct’ MNREGA to bypass panchayat

Pilot project to be launched in Bulandshahr; 18 districts of UP to be covered from April 1

A scheme for direct transfer of wages to the bank accounts of MNREGA job card holders will be launched in 18 districts of UP in the next financial year, beginning April 1. A pilot project will be shortly launched in Bulandshahr district of UP and in Sabarkantha and Panchmahal districts of Gujarat.

Known as Electronic Fund Management System (e-FMS), the scheme will also prevent funds from lying unutilised in village panchayat bank accounts.

The direct transfer of money to the workers' accounts is expected to eliminate corruption, duplication and delays involved in the existing system. Besides, it will prevent funds from lying unused with village panchayats which are not active in carrying out projects.

"Thousands of crores are lying unutilised across the state in village panchayat accounts," said Shubendra Shukla, Joint Commissioner of Rural Development.

In UP, MNREGA scheme covers nearly 52,000 village panchayats across 75 districts. In 2012-13, the opening balance was nearly Rs 1,600 crore in MNREGA account. "It can be said that this amount is lying unutilised," Shukla added.

At present, MNREGA funds are transferred to the village panchayat's account. After executing the project, the village pradhan and panchayat secretary submit the jointly signed cheque, along with the list of workers and their respective amount, to the bank which, in turn, transfers the money to the individual accounts of workers.

Under the e-FMS system, MNREGA funds will not be given to the village panchayat accounts. The village pradhan and panchayat secretary will also not have the authority to sign any cheque. Instead, the funds will be parked in a central account at the bank.

After execution of a work, the village pradhan and the panchayat secretary will inform the block office which will generate an e-muster roll and a wage list. It will be digitally signed by the village pradhan. The wage list will be transmitted through software, known as NREGA Soft, to the concerned bank which will transfer the amount to respective the workers' accounts.

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