14.5 per cent decline in employment under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, says country’s chief auditor
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India recently released a report on Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS), highlighting the irregularities committed by the Uttar Pradesh government in implementing the scheme.
CAG has pointed out that non-adherence to rules and regulations and inefficient financial management and monitoring of the scheme have led to inefficient implementation of this much-talked UPA government flagship scheme.
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, was introduced with the objective of providing 100 days of employment with guaranteed wage payment to adult members of every rural household.
This CAG report, tabled in the state assembly last month, has audited the sum of Rs 22,174 crore allotted to the state between 2007 and 2012 for implementation of the scheme. The audit body found that there was a decline of 14.50 per cent in employment of rural households from 2011- 2012 compared to the previous year. The report further said that only 9.5 per cent of total households in the state got jobs for a period of 100 days. Between 2007-08 and 2011-12, only 9.5 per cent of total 14.3 million registered households got the guaranteed 100 days of work.
CAG has also pointed out that job cards were issued on the basis of applications received by panchayats, whereas the beneficiaries should have been identified through door-to-door surveys. As a result, the overall representation of women in the state among those getting wage employment was a low 18 to 22 per cent (2008-2012) against the targeted 33 per cent.
The report also stated that no unemployment allowances are being provided to eligible beneficiaries. The apex audit body also indicted the state government for not preparing any consolidated accounts of expenditures, thus leading to improper accounting.
According to CAG, effective implementation of the scheme was compromised by the state by not constituting and activating the mandated State Employment Guarantee Committee (SEGC) which advises government on planning, evaluation and monitoring.
According to CAG, the government constituted SEGC after a delay of 19 months and the body has since then met only once or twice.
Huge shortage of staff at gram panchayat, block and district levels and inadequate planning were cited as other factors affecting the implementation of the scheme. Fifteen per cent posts at gram panchayat level, 30 per cent at block level and 20 per cent at district level are lying vacant at present.
The apex auditing body also pointed out that inadequate expenditure and financial irregularities in managing training programmes for the staff and on dissemination of information, education and communication has resulted in poor execution of the scheme.
Inadequate planning at panchayat and district level led to non generation of wage jobs. As a result of this, the state did not submit its timely labour budget estimates, thus causing delay in release of Central and state fund allocations.
CAG has also held the state government responsible for giving highest priority to works like rural connectivity roads, otherwise listed as lowest priority works under MGNREGS. The highest priority works of water conservation and water harvesting were given the lowest priority in the state.
The audit also established that from 2008 to 2012, 35.7 per cent of the executed work related to rural connectivity; only 9.16 per cent of work related to water conservation. Water conservation work was at number four in the list of executed work.
CAG also took a dig at state rural development departments for non-constitution of vigilance and monitoring committees and said that committees which were constituted were never informed about works, time-frame and quality parameters of the projects.
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