New Delhi: The Centre has asked states to clear pending MNREGA wage payments at the earliest to beneficiaries, and cautioned them to avoid diverting funds for other social welfare schemes.
In July this year, the Supreme Court had pulled up the Centre over delay in payments under "Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA).
Following which, in last few months the Rural Development Ministry repeatedly has asked states to clear the pending payments from available funds.
"You are aware of the fact that the Ministry has been harping on the need to clear the wage liabilities on priority. In fact it has been clearly stated that the payment of wages ought to be the first charge on funds released to states/UTs from time to time," the Union Rural Development Ministry has said in a letter written to the states.
Keeping in view the concern of the Hon'ble Supreme Court and the advice of the Ministry, you are requested to kindly take appropriate action for clearing all pending wage liabilities at the earliest, the letter added.
According to a source about Rs 100 crore MNREGA wage payments is pending in various states, while Centre has already allocated adequate funds to the states.
The Central government has also sent a team of officials to those states where maximum MNREGA wage payment is pending.
Under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), funds are released to the states on the basis of agreed to labour budget and performance of the states.
For ensuring timely payment of wages, the Central government had also started National Electronic Fund Management System (NeFMS) in 11 states.
The state governments had been advised to notify the rules and implement the system of compensation for delay in wages payment.
MNREGA is a demand-driven wage employment programme. Not less than 100 days of employment are provided to registered workers upon receipt of their demand.
MNREGA provides a supplementary means of livelihood for the rural people, primarily during the lean periods and is not a substitute for all other employment opportunities.