New teams for scan on MGNREGA
The Union ministry of rural development will despatch teams of officials to Bengal again to take note of the ground realities of the 100- day job scheme (MGNREGA) in the state.
“National-level monitoring teams will be visiting 12 districts in the state from January 23. They will primarily check projects carried out under the rural employment guarantee scheme,” said a senior government official.
Sources at Nabanna said the Centre’s decision to send teams to the state to assess the implementation of the MGNREGA was significant in the backdrop of the Union government’s pause button on the release of funds under the scheme in the 2022-23 financial year.
“The Centre is sending teams to other states also. But sending teams to other states has some reasons since funds were allocated to them. But it is still not clear why the central teams are being sent to Bengal, which didn’t receive funds from Delhi (under the scheme in the current fiscal),” said a source.
A section of Bengal bureaucrats, who are aware of the development, said the central teams were set to check the progress of job card authentication in the state.
In the state, nearly 28 lakh job cards could not be verified or could not be linked to Aadhaar cards so far. Opposition parties, especially the BJP, alleged that those job cards were bogus and used to prepare fake master rolls to misappropriate funds under the scheme.
“The Centre was laying stress on authenticating all two crore job cards in the state. The work is on and the central teams may focus on this during their visit to districts,” said a source.
A section of state government officials said the central teams might also try to find out what system the Bengal dispensation had put in place to prevent corruption under the MGNREGA.
The state had submitted reports to the Centre that it had put in place a robust system, including the launch of a grievance portal, the appointment of an ombudsman in all districts and the holding of regular gram sabhas, to prevent corruption under the scheme. Such measures were taken after the Centre had stopped the release of the funds since April last year alleging embezzlement.
“The Centre may want to check whether these systems were actually put in place before releasing some funds under the scheme,” said an official.
The state government has asked all the districts to cooperate with the central teams during their visit.
“We don’t have anything to hide. We have taken measures and if the Centre wants to verify them, we should not have any problem,” said a bureaucrat.
A Trinamul Congress insider said the state would cooperate with the central teams but Delhi had to ensure that funds would be released for the sake of common people if everything was found to be fine.