SC seeks govt`s response on funds utilisation of MGNREGA

Last Updated: Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 14:20

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday sought response from the Centre and the Orissa government as to why the probe into the alleged irregularities in utilisation of funds for implementation of MGNREGA scheme not be handed over to the CBI.

"Why not a direction be given to CBI to investigate the matter in accordance with law," a bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia said.

The bench directed the chief secretary of Orissa and additional secretary of the Union Rural Development Ministry to file a compliance report on the implementation of the guidelines within three weeks.
The court also asked them to file their response in the same affidavit about the CBI probe.

Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising said, "We want a CBI probe. Our request has gone to the CBI."

She said that the state governments are reluctant to implement the guidelines.

"We are facing resistance from the state governments. States are supposed to convert guidelines into rules but they are not doing this," she said.

The bench asked the Centre and the Orissa government
to inform the extent of fund released to Orissa between 2006
and 2010.

It also wanted to know whether utilisation certificate for the fund was given by the Orissa government to the Centre or not.

Further, the bench asked them to inform how many people were employed under the scheme in Orissa and whether social auditing was done by the Gram Sabha or not.

The ASG informed that in Orissa 11 lakhs bogus cards were cancelled.

Meanwhile, the court granted six weeks to Orissa government to explain, "Why the operational guidelines of MGNREGA framed in 2008 by the Centre under section 27 of the act should not be made mandatory."

"It is purely a question of law that the state should be ready on the next occasion to answer," the bench said.

The apex court had earlier favoured a Central probe into the diversion of funds and non-implementation of rural employment scheme MGNREGA in Orissa.

It had said that the allegations were of serious nature on diversion of funds and non-implementation of MGNREGA in which Rs 40,000 crore was being released by the Centre annually to state governments.

The bench also wanted to know from the Centre the steps it intends to take on the allegations concerning Orissa.

The court was hearing a PIL filed in 2007 by an NGO Centre for Environment and Food Security alleging large-scale corruption in the implementation of the MGNREGA scheme.

Based on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in 2005, the scheme provides for legally-guaranteed 100 days of employment to at least one member of each rural household.

In October 2009, it was renamed as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

The court wanted a nodal agency to monitor the programme in the wake of allegations in the petition that the benefits of the scheme were not percolating down to the targeted beneficiaries.

The court had said that there was a need for the nodal agency at the Centre to ensure that the guidelines for implementation of the scheme are not given a go-bye.

The apex court had also observed that the funds meant for the scheme were not reaching the intended beneficiaries.

It had said several projects under the scheme are failing as the funds allocated for them either remain unutilised or in many cases the money ends up in the wrong hands.

The petition had pointed out that while some states in the north-east and Andhra Pradesh have done a good job in implementing the rural employment scheme, the others are far behind.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 14:20

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