Amid a debate on reviewing the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), latest government data on the performance of social audits has revealed that funds worth nearly Rs 1,000 were identified as having been “misappropriated” under the scheme — a majority of it in Andhra Pradesh — from 2011-12 to November this year. Of this, the government managed to recover a little over 3 per cent.
Data compiled by the Rural Development Ministry to track the performance of social audits of MGNREGA assessed key parameters such as funds identified as misappropriated, funds recovered, number of functionaries against whom action was taken and the total number of grievances registered and redressed. MGNREGA, introduced in 2006, promises 100 days of work every year to each rural household. The scheme has a budget allocation of Rs 34,000 crore.
The available data shows that Rs 987.31 crore was misappropriated and Rs 33.25 crore was recovered between 2011-12 to November this year. The data is available for 19 states only, officials said.
In undivided Andhra Pradesh, Rs 979.43 crore was found to have been misappropriated, of which Rs 32.34 crore was recovered. Action was taken against nearly 70,000 functionaries.
Andhra has been one of the top performing states for MGNREGA, with an effective social audit system which led to the identification of misappropriations of such proportions, officials said.
In Karnataka, Rs 553 lakh was found to be misappropriated, of which 11 lakh was recovered, and action was taken against 53 functionaries. Of the Rs 65 lakh reportedly misappropriated in Uttar Pradesh, less than Rs 2 lakh was recovered. Ten states have identified no misappropriation of funds.
This comes at a time when the NDA government has been accused by various quarters, including opposition parties, of attempting to “dilute” MGNREGA and limit its scope, instead of strengthening it through greater focus on critical components like social audits.
States have complained of lack of funds under this government and alleged it is trying to prune expenditure by cutting down on funds for the scheme.