In opposition camp too, delays, mismanagement

When it comes to the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), there is little to put the Congress-ruled states apart from the Opposition-governed ones.

If some non-Congress-ruled states (Gujarat, Kerala, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu) delayed formulation of rules for the scheme at the time of its launch, Gujarat also stalled constitution or functioning of required State Employment Guarantee Councils (SEGCs). Others like Tripura, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh failed to appoint State Rural Employment Guarantee Commissioners in time (SREGCs).

Quite like Congress-ruled states, the SEGCs in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh only partially monitored implementation of the scheme, while in Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, no technical resource support groups, with engineers or other experts, were set up at the district and state levels.

Revolving funds were not made available at the district, block and gram panchayat levels in Tripura, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu, while Gujarat, Karnataka, Tripura, and West Bengal delayed the release of state share. In Uttar Pradesh, state share was not paid in full all "adversely affecting" the implementation of the scheme.

The CAG audits' observations:

Madhya Pradesh

Unemployment allowance of Rs 4.75 lakh paid to 1,574 households for 18 days in Barwani from Central Government funds despite rules putting the burden on states

Muster rolls in sample districts found to be issued on dates later than the start of work

In the audited districts the average daily wage was Rs 45, well below the minimum Rs 60 stipulated under the Act

CEO, zilla panchayat, Sidhi, spent Rs 20.80 lakh on spraying of hormones for jatropha plantation on contract basis, against the rules

Wages of Rs 10.68 lakh paid even before the issue of muster rolls

Names of 96 labourers appeared simultaneously in various muster rolls at different worksites for the same period

Rs 12.05 lakh spent by the PWD, Dhar, on repair of roads and renovation of meeting halls

Rajasthan

Rs 20 lakh released to six districts as unemployment allowance remained unutilised

Little evidence found to back the state government's claim of generation of 999 lakh mandays at an average of 91 days per household

Payment delayed for one to 209 days without compensation

The proportionate increase in expenditure during the last quarter of 2006-07 indicates that advances given to panchayat were treated as final expenditure

In sample gram panchayats in Udaipur district, payments were made to labourers without measuring works

Uttar Pradesh

In four of the six districts covered by the audit, 40,587 households demanding employment were neither provided work nor given unemployment allowance

In five of the six districts, the funds released were short by Rs 13.26 crore

Tamil Nadu

Unemployment allowance was not paid in any of the villages on the ground that such contingency did not arise. However, the fact could not be verified; records were improperly maintained

Measurement books for projects were not maintained in any of the sample villages

Karnataka

Payments of wages, to the tune of Rs 62.04 lakh, delayed by three-four months. However, no compensation paid

A road project worth Rs 8.75 lakh taken up in Gulbarga taluk without technical sanction

Kerala

Cases of muster rolls not carrying job card numbers of households, work number, signature of concerned officers etc

In three audited projects, excess payment of Rs 2.25 lakh due to application of wrong per unit rates

Gujarat

About 63 per cent of the works during the year remained incomplete

None of the 1986 works taken up to provide irrigation facility on land owned by STs was completed

Fraudulent payment of Rs 5,482

Tripura

Under reporting of expenditure by Rs 12.14 lakh in one district

Rs 9 lakh transferred to divisional forest officers, Manu, for construction of houses in violation of rules

Rs 52.44 lakh spent on construction of motor stands, where wage payment was less than stipulated

West Bengal

Rs 61.21 lakh from an earlier scheme (NFFWP) was spent for works under the NREGS without observing the norms for the new scheme

Rs 38.49 lakh spent on 20 projects for execution of non-existent work

Rs 6.13 lakh spent on social forestry projects with little to show for it

Concluding its observations, the draft CAG audit has recommended that all funds diverted or misutilised from the scheme should be recovered from state governments, and that the Ministry of Rural Development should take effective steps to ensure "swift and immediate action" by state governments to remedy these deficiencies.

The other recommendations, to the Central Government, are:

An interest commensurate with the delay in release of state share for the scheme

Incentives for maintenance of records, like offering a small percentage of the total expenditure say 0.5 per cent for data entry in muster rolls, job cards, employment register, project register etc

1Appoint Employment Guarantee Assistants in each gram panchayat

Amend the NREGA for partial reimbursement of payment of unemployment allowance by the Centre

Explore a nationwide agreement with the Department of Posts for all NREGS payments

Add additional categories of works and consider empowering state governments/SEGCs to add other region-specific works

A dedicated administrative and technical set-up for successful implementation of the scheme, especially for 200 districts in Phase 1

Amend the current pattern of funding administrative expenses as a percentage of total expenditure.

  • Tags:
Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views expressed in comments published on indianexpress.com are those of the comment writer's alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Indian Express Group or its staff. Comments are automatically posted live; however, indianexpress.com reserves the right to take it down at any time. We also reserve the right not to publish comments that are abusive, obscene, inflammatory, derogatory or defamatory.