Centre to check job scheme correction steps
The Centre has decided to send teams to Bengal to check whether all loopholes have been plugged to prevent misappropriation of funds under the 100-day job scheme after the Narendra Modi government asked the state to initiate several steps, including recovery of funds allegedly embezzled under the project over the past few years.
Sources in the Bengal government said the steps initiated by the Centre might delay the process of releasing funds under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) as the task of reviewing the project implementation system and the disbursal of the cash based on the reports of the central teams would take long time.
“Bengal is yet to get a sum of Rs 6,500 crore under MGNREGA for the works carried out in 2021-22 and no cash was allotted in the 2022-23 financial year as the Centre had asked the state to initiate a series of measures in the backdrop of complaints of misappropriation of funds. Now, as the central teams will verify whether the state has taken enough steps, the release of funds is certainly going to be delayed further,” said a senior government official.
According to the letter sent to the state government, the ministry of rural development clearly mentioned that the national level monitoring teams had found “several issues” with the implementation of MGNREGA in Bengal in 2021-22.
“The Centre repeatedly asked the state in the past few months to initiate a series of measures, including recovery of funds misappropriated under the scheme from the persons responsible. As the action taken reports sent by the state were not satisfactory, the Centre had suspended release of funds under the scheme from March, 2022,” said a senior government official.
The sources said the state government had sent to Delhi another action taken report after the release of funds had been suspended, claiming some portions of embezzled amount had been recovered according to the direction of the Centre. “Now, the Centre wants to verify whether steps were initiated on the ground or it was done only on papers,” said a source.
In the letter sent to the state informing it about the visit of the central teams, the ministry of rural development said it continued to receive complaints even after the Mamata Banerjee administration had submitted action taken reports based on the advisories of the Union government.
According to sources, the ministry will send 15 teams to the state and each will visit at least one district.