Ramesh warns State on NREGA funds

Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, in a letter to Karnataka Chief Minister Jagdish Shettar on the mismanagement of funds under the rural job scheme, warned that further release of funds under the programme will not be possible unless the issues pointed out by him are resolved.

Listing out serious “inconsistencies” and “discrepancies” running into hundreds of crores of rupees in the management of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the minister remarked: “I am somewhat surprised that serious issues have been festering for so long in a traditionally well administrated state like Karnataka.”

Deccan Herald had published a news report on September 13 “Rs 600-cr scam unearthed” following which the state rural development department described it as “untrue and baseless”.  However, a couple of days later, the chief minister in the national Capital admitted to the charges of fraud and underlined that investigations are being conducted at three different levels, and the truth will come out once these reports are available. Ramesh, in his letter to Shettar on September 19, sought the latter’s personal and immediate intervention but pointed out that his ministry will release funds considering the drought situation in the state.

However, he added that further funds will not be released unless outstanding issues were resolved. “There have been several communications from the state government that are inconsistent with one another giving an impression that there is a lack of adequate internal controls in implementation of the scheme,” the minister noted. He said that on April 2, 2012, the state government informed that as on April 1, 2012, the opening balance of the districts was Rs 356.11 crore.

“It was also informed that there were outstanding payment of bills amounting to Rs 654.49 crore for the period 11-12 which were required to be cleared immediately. However, it is informed that the state had an unspent balance of Rs 338.64 crore as on April 1, 2012.” The letter said that for the year 2011-12, Rs 734.63 crore was paid as liabilities of 2010-11. Likewise, in 2012-13, Rs 551.29 crore was paid on account of liabilities of 2011-12. “This clearly indicates that transfer of funds to panchayats is not being managed efficiently,” he added. Ramesh pointed out that in the current year, the state spent Rs 389.5 crore and liabilities of Rs 29.81 crore. “Payments are not being made against committed liabilities despite the state government having sufficient funds at its disposal,” he added.

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