Only 35 per cent beneficiaries got jobs; half of civil work undertaken left incomplete
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in a report released on August 1, has pointed out large-scale discrepancies in the implementation of the Centre's rural job programme in Bihar. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), a flagship programme of the UPA government, assures 100 days of manual employment to any rural household that demands work.
In an earlier audit report submitted to Parliament in April, CAG had pointed out how MGNREGS was inefficiently managed. The audit had estimated India had lost Rs 10,853 crore in incomplete works.
The CAG report highlights that Bihar was deprived of Rs 9,684 crore as assistance from the Centre because of delayed preparation of the budget coupled with poor projections using unreal data presented in the budget. Apart from losing a major share of Central assistance, the Bihar rural development department failed to provide compulsory 100 days of jobs to rural labourers. The report mentions that only seven per cent of a total of 13.4 million registered families holding MGNREGA job cards were provided jobs for 100 days in 2007-2012. The loss of assistance from the Centre and the poor job distribution was attributed to the government’s inability to fix the man work days and chalk out a clear strategy for defining work.
The report further indicates that only 35 per cent of beneficiaries got jobs under MGNREGS. What's more, the state was able to provide jobs to only 28 per cent of the registered women labourers instead of all of the women labourers, who constitute 33 per cent of labour work force registered under the scheme.
Corruption and inefficiency
The MGNREGS is in the grip of severe corruption, according to the report. Job cards were issued to more than one member from registered families. The figures of registered labourers were thus twisted to falsely show an increase in their numbers. The country's chief auditor in his report says that the 40,304 extra families that were registered in 82 panchayats in Bihar were cases of fake job cards.
According to CAG, the state did not follow the norms of work prioritization for MGNREGS, giving work of lower priority preference to work that fell in the category of higher priority civil work in 15 districts. Only 50 per cent of these undertaken works were completed. Work orders for 744,000 works, majority of them civil work, were left incomplete. Only 306,000 works were fully completed.
Bihar also failed to transfer the remaining cash of Rs 21.44 crore and food grain valuation at Rs 77.36 crore to the MGNREGS account. The money was left over and not utilized under the food-for-work programme.
CAG also raised questions as to why Rs 2.07 crore was invested on plantation of 176,000 saplings when there was no monitoring system or criteria in place. All the saplings have been destroyed because of lack of maintenance.
Bihar rural development minister Nitish Mishra, reacting to the CAG report findings, said that last year 1.4 million fake job cards were cancelled. He also maintains that MGNREGS implementation has been streamlined in the past one year. On an average, around 3.8 million families registered under the scheme were provided 28 days of work. “We have also started an initiative to maintain transparency in the implementation of the scheme through social audits. Steps are being taken to increase the participation of women in the scheme,” said Mishra.
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