Bengal is slated for yet another visit from central investigation teams in connection with its implementation of daily wage employment and midday meal schemes.
The Ministry of Rural Development has decided to send three teams of National Level Monitors (NLMs) to conduct a probe into complaints related to irregularities under MGNREGS while the Comptroller and Auditor General of India will also conduct a special audit of PM Poshan Mid Day Meal fund in West Bengal's 5 districts.
In a written order, the Rural Development ministry said, "The NLM has been advised to communicate well in advance with the concerned district officials about their plan with actual date and time of visit. The visit will begin with a meeting with the District Collector/CEO Zila Parishad/other district level officials implementing MGNREGS. The District Magistrate/District Collector/CEO Zila Parishad of the concerned district may be requested to spare sufficient time to interact with the team during their visit. The Nodal Officer dealing with NLM activities at the state level may kindly be instructed to coordinate with the district authorities."
Drawing the Centre's attention on the “PM Poshan (mid-day meal) scam in West Bengal”, Bengal Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari had initially written to Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan urging him to send a central audit team to probe alleged irregularities including “misappropriation of mid-day meal funds”. The cost of mid-day meals for the 11.6 million students of Bengal is shared by the Centre and state on a 60:40 basis.
Subsequently, the central government's decision to request a special audit of Bengal's implementation of PM Poshan scheme was met with an uproar from the Trinamul government. The Mamata Banerjee-led party claimed that the CAG is an autonomous body and the Centre has no business in setting the agenda or deciding the subjects that should be audited by the body.