Ludhiana, Fazilka to be honoured as top NREGA performers in state

The Union Rural Development Ministry will honour Ludhiana and Fazilka for being the top performers in Punjab under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), in New Delhi on Saturday.

However, a ground check presents a grim picture. When compared to other states, Ludhiana and Fazilka can only be compared to worst performing districts in states like West Bengal.

Ludhiana, which used to be at the bottom of the performers' list, has bagged the number one position in Punjab this year when it came to providing jobs, followed by Fazilka. So far, Ludhiana has spent Rs 13.25 crore, out of which, it has received only Rs 10.72 crore from the Centre.

On the other hand, the worst performing district in Bengal, Siliguri, has so far spent Rs 11 crore. In Punjab, the worst performing districts have spent not more than Rs 1 crore.

While Punjab had received funds worth Rs 140 crore under MGNREGA for the current financial year, it has been able to utilise only Rs 113 crore in different districts. In West Bengal's Burdwan district alone, Rs 453 crore has been utilised in the current financial year. The total funds received by the state was around Rs 3,000 crore.

Meanwhile, neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh has received funds worth Rs 324 crore and have already spent around Rs 321 crore. Haryana, on the other hand, has available funds worth Rs 336 crore, out of which, only Rs 230 crore have been spent.

The funds received by a state under MGNREGA in a particular year is determined by how much funds the state had been able to utilse in the previous year.

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Sunil Jakhar, said: "In Punjab, hardly anyone has got 100 days of employment and average employment is of not more than 20 days. Punjab is misguiding the Centre in the name of utilisation of funds. Once an inquiry is conducted, the loopholes will be out in open."

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