Ranchi, Oct. 25: Jharkhand will receive the second instalment of funds meant for implementing Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in the state this fiscal with utilisation audits carried out by different districts nearing completion.
The office of the MGNREGS commissioner, which functions under the state rural development department, is in the final stages of collecting audit report of works done in respective districts.
“We have started getting the audit reports. The Centre asked us to monitor MGNREGS works done so far in order to decide how funds will be distributed for the second instalment. We hope to receive the money by the first week of November,” state MGNREGS commissioner Arun told The Telegraph.
The first instalment of Rs 375 crore was paid in a staggered manner in April and October this year, over and above an opening balance of Rs 518 crore in unutilised funds.
While Rs 261 crore was released in April as first instalment, another Rs 113.22 crore was released on October 11 after deputy chief minister Sudesh Mahto took up the matter with Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh. The money received in October was distributed among 23 districts, with Pakur being left out of the largesse because of its poor funds utilisation track record.
This year, the districts that have been lagging in utilising MGNREGS funds are Bokaro, Dhanbad, Koderma, Lohardaga, Pakur, Palamau and Ramgarh where utilisation has been less than 50 per cent. Pakur was given Rs 110 crore last year, out of which the district could use only about Rs 59 crore. Giridih topped the utilisation chart, using Rs 83 crore out of Rs 114 crore allocated.
The state is supposed to receive Rs 1,638 crore this financial year in three to four instalments. As the scheme is demand-driven, the state may end up getting much less if its utilisation record does not improve. In the last fiscal (2011-12), out of Rs 1,609 crore made available under MGNREGS, the state could utilise about Rs 1,143 crore.
Arun said so far this fiscal, the state had been able to utilise around Rs 600 to Rs 700 crore of MGNREGS funds.
He added that with monsoon bidding adieu, it was the best time to embark on projects in the hinterland, and there was a dire need of injection of central funds.
Notably, the cap of 100 man-days for each household issued job cards under the scheme was raised to 150 in the first week of October by the Centre in view of the drought-like situation in the state. Moreover, the scope of work was also diversified to ensure construction of durable assets and livelihood security of rural masses.
The Centre has applauded the state’s well construction projects under MGNREGS. Jharkhand has been able to take up as many as 95,000 well schemes in different districts, with 80,000 of them already completed.
Earlier, the Centre had been hesitant about releasing the second instalment after districts failed to send in the audit reports by September as mandated and there were reports of irregularities in implementing the scheme.
Irregularities were detected in Godda, Deoghar and Dumka where beneficiaries were found to be fake. Even Godda MP Nishikant Dubey had complained about the same to the Centre in the second week of October.