Government spent Rs. 1,26,961 crore but hardly 30 per cent works are completed
Exactly five years after the employment guarantee programme's pan-India roll out, the programme seems to have lost favour with the rural poor. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) office submitted its latest audit report on the programme to Parliament on April 23. The audit shows around 20 per cent decline in employment generation under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in the last two years.
The rural employment programme guarantees 100 days of manual work if a rural household demands it. Government first implemented the programme in 200 districts in 2006. On April 1, 2008, it was extended to all rural districts in the country. This is the second such audit by CAG. The recent audit covered implementation during 2007-12 in 182 districts.
The latest audit report brings out the usual concerns associated with the programme: forgery in job cards, late payment of wages, declining job demand and non-completion of works.
Going by the extracts of the report tabled in Parliament, CAG found that lack of close monitoring of the programme has led to widespread irregularities. Many states have not been able to spend the allocated funds under the programme. Interestingly, states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar having large rural population have spent the least.
Under MGNREGA, around 13 million works were taken up at an expense of Rs 1,26,961 crore, most of them related to water and soil conservation, useful to small and marginal farmers. But, the CAG report finds, only 30 per cent of these works have been completed.
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