Imphal: Taking serious note of the report about looting of MGNREGS wages for the job card holders by some pradhans and members in cahoots with bank officials, despite the centre and the state releasing huge funds for the scheme amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, RD & PR Minister Thongam Biswajit said that Government will look into the matter and legal action will be initiated against the unscrupulous individuals including bank officials involved in such fraudulent act.
The Minister said that the BJP led state government, having successfully provided work for 43 man-days to the job card holders in the year 2019-20Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), is targeting to provide work for 50 man-days in the year 2020-21, for which Rs.515 crores will be released soon.
In a rare case that has never happened in the past, Ministry of Rural Development has recently released Rs 952.32 crore under MGNREGS in the last two months for the state due to hectic effort of the state Government. Of the Rs 952.32 crore, Rs.214.75 crores was released on March 23 by the Ministry as second installment for the year 2019-20 while Rs. Rs 737.57 crore was sanctioned on April 5 as first installment of the year 2020-21, the minister said.
Last year, State government could provide work for 43 man-days under MGNREGS at the average. Of the Rs 737.56 crore sanctioned by the ministry on April 5, State Finance Department has released Rs 515.40 crore along with state matching share of Rs 25 crore. Of the Rs 515.40 crore sanctioned by State Finance Department, Rs 263 crore is for payment of due wages for 22 days for last year while Rs 252.39 Cr for payment of 10 days wages for the year 2020-21. The said amount will be released to respective districts soon, said the minister.
After having successfully utilized the amount of Rs 515.40 crore sanctioned by the Finance Department, State Government will soon release the pending amount of Rs 222 crore to facilitate provision of another 10 days work during the current year. For the current year, the Ministry has approved 50 man-days work for the state under the scheme. State Government is targeting to provide 100 days work in the current year, he said.
The Minister further said that the works taken up under MGNREGS are being monitored from time to time by conducting social audit. Government has initiated a new initiative to create new assets in villages through GIS planning under Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP). This will help make up infrastructural shortages in rural areas, apart from enabling to utilize the MGNREGS fund in an effective manner.
Wages have been credited to the bank accounts of the job card holders in valley areas through eFMS. Due to lack of internet facility and other problems in hill areas, eFMS have been introduced in 18 blocks on pilot basis. For the remaining villages, wages are delivered to the job card holders through the concerned authorities until their bank accounts are opened.
Stating that State is making effort to include the job card holders in the national portal, the minister appealed the people to open their bank accounts, citing that it will be a tough task for the job card holders with no bank accounts to get their wages.
Government is also considering to delete the non-working job card holders and to issue new job cards, the minister appealed the job card holders to work sincerely rather than waiting for wages to be credited in their accounts without execution of work.
Regarding looting of job card wages by the pradhans and members in cahoots with bank officials, the minister said that he has instructed the officials concerned to look into the matter. A report will be sought from the bank authorities in this regard. Legal will be initiated again the erring individuals if they are found guilty, he cautioned.