regular-article-logo Tuesday, 30 May 2023

NREGA funds unease before panchayat elections

Multiple sources in Bengal administration say implementing the measures are both politically and administratively 'impossible'

Pranesh Sarkar Calcutta Published 05.11.22, 12:21 AM
Mamata Banerjee

Mamata Banerjee File Picture

Bengal appears unlikely to secure funds from the Centre under the 100-day rural job scheme ahead of next year’s panchayat polls as New Delhi has communicated to the state its dissatisfaction with the action taken to redress the problems central teams had identified during surveys of MGNREGA projects.

“The ATR (action-taken report) has been examined.… As per the ATR, the state has taken action in the light of the observations of the central teams. However, some of the recommendations such as DPC (district programme coordinator) to be directed to accord permission for land development work on case-to-case basis, comprehensive actions against all the defaulting officials, recovery against all such works where the central teams highlighted irregularities in the implementation, have not yet been addressed,” says a letter sent to the Bengal government by Dharmvir Jha, director, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme, on November 3.


The letter does not mention any possibility of a freeze on funds flow from Delhi, but it recommends measures that the state has to implement within 15 days.

Multiple sources in the Bengal administration said implementing the measures were both politically and administratively “impossible”.

The recommendations include recovery of misappropriated funds, curbs on blanket permission for land development work under the NREGA and disciplinary or legal proceedings against officials and panchayat functionaries found guilty of defalcating money.

“At this moment, the measures that the letter has suggested cannot be implemented. So, it’s unlikely that any funds under the MGNREGA would flow to Bengal before the panchayat polls,” a source said.

Bengal receives between Rs 9,000 crore and Rs 11,000 crore a year under the rural job scheme.

“The state government has forwarded the recommendations to all district magistrates, asking them to comply and send ATRs by November 14. Recovery of misappropriated funds and action against panchayat functionaries would be a tall ask,” said a bureaucrat.

“The central teams had pointed out that hundreds of crores had been defalcated.… If the state wants to recover these funds, it has to take action against hundreds of ruling party panchayat functionaries. I am not sure whether the ruling establishment will take that risk,” another bureaucrat said.

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