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State gets a fraction of NREGS money it asked for

First quarter Against demand of Rs 1275 cr,Centre allots Rs 420 cr.

Written by Maulshree Seth | Lucknow | Published: April 30, 2013 1:50 am

First quarter Against demand of Rs 1275 cr,Centre allots Rs 420 cr.

There is disappointment for the UP government,which is already facing a fund crunch under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. The Centre has released only Rs 420 crore as the first installment for the current financial year,against the state’s demand of Rs 1,275 crore.

While the Centre has not given reason for the release of Rs 420 crore,sources said the UP government had been told in the past to first utilise the unspent amount of about Rs 200 crore it already has. However,a state government officer contested the argument saying: “It is not like the entire unspent amount is lying at a one place with the state government. It remains unutilised at the gram panchayat levels. Thus,it is not practically possible to collect it and then re-distribute it as honorarium or other dues.”

Alleging bias against UP,Arvind Singh ‘Gope’,UP’s Minister of State for Rural Development,said,“Such small release of funds in the very first quarter of the year has made us helpless. The Congress is adopting double standards. On one hand they say that NREGA is their flagship scheme,on the other hand they don’t release enough fund for its implementation and then they go on to criticise UP for underutilisation. Once the Chief Minister (Akhilesh Yadav) is back from his foreign tour,we are going to discuss this matter,”

The state government has to pay over Rs 150 crore as the dues of about 30,000 contractual employees as honorarium under the scheme and employees have already threatened an agitation.

Not knowing how to tackle the crisis,the state government has,for the time being,promised the contractual employees that it would send a proposal to the Centre to regularise them and also hike their honorarium. However,the contractual employees,which include Gram Rojgar Sewaks,technical assistants,assistant program officers,computer operators,have been told that payment of their pending honorarium would not be possible until the Centre releases enough funds.

Sanjay Dixit,AICC member,who has been supporting protests of contractual employees,said,“The Centre has not done anything wrong. There is a clear instruction that the state government is supposed to first make the payment of honorarium of contractual employees from the contingency amount under the scheme and then release payment for other miscellaneous expenditures like transport,stationary etc. But,the UP government did just the opposite.”

Sources in the government said that following low release of funds for the past few quarters,they are planning to cut down the number of contractual employees during the current financial year.

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