CAG report hints at graft in job scheme

MGNREGS wages paid to non-beneficiaries, before their names were deleted

CAG report hints at graft in job scheme

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report that was tabled in the Assembly on Tuesday hinted at large-scale irregularities while implementing projects taken up under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) between 2007 and 2012.

The report throws light on how norms were violated and how beneficiaries were let down. The report pointed out that about 3.49 lakh job cards and 8.23 lakh names of beneficiaries in 30 districts were deleted between 2008 and 2012 on the grounds of wrong entries, but an amount of Rs 25.38 crore was disbursed as wages much before the deletion of names and job cards.

In fact, the CAG report says that an amount of Rs 617.74 crore has been paid to 63.88 lakh individuals between 2008-09 and 2011-12, before they were tagged (made ineligible) for deletion.

Around 20.73 lakh cards were tagged for deletion, but the reason for deletion has been recorded as ‘others’ in 92 per cent of the cases. The report also found instances where 39,157 permanently deleted job cards had been created again. Out of this, 31,092 cards had been created with some other name as head of the household.

The norms state that wages in the form of money should be distributed to the beneficiaries, but the norms were violated and the payments were made through cheques  in Thirumani village Gram Panchayat (GP) in Chikkaballapur district and Mannur and Chattaraki GPs in Bijapur district. There is a greater possibility of non-beneficiaries receiving such money, instead of the beneficiaries, the report states.

The report also disclosed how unemployment allowances were not distributed. The allowances should be given to an applicant if he/she fails to get any employment opportunity within 15 days of filling up the application. In many cases, there was not only delay in paying the daily wages, but also non-disbursal of unemployment allowance.

More shocking was the revelation that much interest was shown to increase the number of projects, while completion of the same was totally neglected. The number of projects went up, except during 2010-11. The percentage of completion of the projects dipped too by a whopping 63 per cent and stood at 14 per cent of the total works undertaken in 2011-12, the report pointed out.

Another major point that the CAG report highlighted was that of conducting Gram Sabha meetings. The CAG scrutinised a total of 157 GPs and found that only 28 GPs conducted Gram Sabha meetings on October 2, but there were no records to show that the remaining 128 GPs conducted any such meeting, between 2007 and 2012.

The report pointed out that the number of families which wanted employment in 2009-10 was 36.26 lakh, but the number dipped to 16.64 lakh in 2011-12.

As many as 20.04 crore person days for employments were created between 2009 and 2010, but the number was just seven crore between 2011 and 2012. The share of Scheduled Tribes during the same period dipped from 19 per cent to 8 per cent and that of Scheduled Castes from 30 per cent to 16 per cent, the report stated.

The report also criticised the lack of any vigilance and monitoring mechanism at the local level and said that no monitoring committees were ever constituted at the local level and no workers had verified or certified all the bills and vouchers at their worksite, as required.

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