The Telegraph
Friday , August 2 , 2013

Govt in job scheme dock
- CAG report reveals irregularities

Patna, Aug. 1: Irregularities in implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in Bihar surfaced again as the comptroller and auditor general (CAG)’s stand-alone report on the ambitious project was tabled in the Assembly today.

The audit was carried out for the period 2007-12 during which Rs 8,184.26 crore was released for MGNREGS in the state. The CAG has found that there has been a decreasing trend in providing jobs under the scheme, from 75 per cent in 2007-08 to just 20 per cent in 2011-12. “There are deficiencies in planning, execution, fund management, grievance redressal mechanism, monitoring and training in implementation of MGNREGS in the state,” says the report.

This is the first time that a CAG audit has been done for the ambitious scheme in Bihar.

Last year, a Delhi-based NGO came out with a survey on the implementation of MGNREGS in Bihar and found that 73 per cent of the Rs 8,189 crore spent on the scheme had been embezzled.

The CAG report says that during 2007-12, Rs 8,184.26 crore was released for the scheme, of which Rs 8,110.84 crore has been spent. The findings indicate that 1.34 crore households were registered but only 35 per cent of these got jobs.

Again, only 28 per cent women were provided jobs against the stipulated 33 per cent. The main aim of MGNREGS — to give 100 days’ job in a year — stood defeated as seven per cent of the households got 100 days’ employment.

The audit points out that annual plans for the schemes were delayed and were done without labour projection. It also maintains that the number of registered households reported to the government was inflated. In the absence, or delay, of a labour budget, the state was deprived of over Rs 9,684 crore in central share due to less creation of man-days, the report says.

The audit team found several cases of delayed or non-payment of wages for which no compensation was paid to the labourers. In all the cases, employment was provided on verbal requests of the job seekers, which was not documented.

The irregularities detected in the 15 districts in which the audit was conducted are glaring. In West Champaran, Madhubani and Aurangabad districts, over Rs 67 lakh was paid to working agencies without even measurement of work. In nine districts, work in 753 projects was found abandoned though a sum of over Rs 12.64 crore had already been spent. In 12 districts, Rs 2.07 crore was spent on 1,76,350 plantations but 100 per cent of the plants died. The audit team did not find pits and mounts at the sites, which raised questions on whether any plantation at all took place. It was also found that fraudulent payment of wages was made to non-existent accounts in post offices.

Rural development minister Nitish Mishra countered the CAG report. “During 2007-12, job cards were issued to over 1.33 crore families and jobs were given to over 38 lakh families. To bring transparency in MGNREGS, we have taken a number of steps like distribution of statement of jobs, getting the expenditure of the scheme approved from the gram sabha etc. The participation of women in MGNREGS has increased to 34 per cent,” he said.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar said the CAG was a constitutional body which prepares audit reports of government expenditure. “The report will be vetted by the public accounts committee of the legislature and after that, action will be taken if the situation arises,” he said.

The failure of proper implementation of one of the most ambitious anti-poverty schemes is one of the reasons for unabated migration of labour from Bihar despite its high growth rate.

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