THE AKHILESH Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh spent Rs 15.06 crore between 2012 and 2013 on functions to distribute cheques worth Rs 20.58 crore to beneficiaries of its flagship unemployment allowance scheme. And this, when the scheme specified that the money should be deposited directly in the bank accounts of beneficiaries.
This startling finding is part of a “General and Social Sector” report prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) and tabled in the UP assembly Thursday.
According to the report, the previous SP government spent Rs 8.07 crore on seating, refreshment and other arrangements for these functions in 2012-13, and Rs 6.99 crore on transporting beneficiaries to the venues.
These cheques were given to about 1.26 lakh unemployed persons and, at many venues, were handed over personally by Akhilesh, then the chief minister.
“An avoidable expenditure of Rs 15.06 crore was incurred on organising functions to distribute cheques to beneficiaries of ‘Berozgari Bhatta Yojna’ in 69 districts though the unemployment allowance was to be credited to the beneficiaries’ bank accounts,” the CAG report stated.
The allowance scheme was initially started by the SP government of 2003-2007 under Mulayam Singh Yadav, with Rs 1,000 for each unemployed person within the age group of 30-40 years who had cleared high school. The initiative was for residents of the state registered at the employment office and with an annual family income of less than Rs 36,000.
According to the CAG, the scheme was revived by the Akhilesh government in May 2012. Its report stated that according to rule 8.4 (i) of the scheme, the payment was to be deposited on a quarterly basis in savings bank accounts opened in nationalised banks or in the kshetriya gramin bank by beneficiaries. The account details had to be provided by beneficiaries on their application forms for availing the scheme.
The report also pointed out that the scheme’s guidelines did not contain any provision for the transportation of beneficiaries to venues or for seating arrangements and refreshments.
The report stated that the government, during a discussion on the scheme in November 2016, “while accepting the facts and figures, (and) that the opening of bank accounts in nationalised bank was mandatory as per the scheme’s “niyamavali” (guidelines)”, claimed that the “payment to the beneficiary through bank accounts was not binding”.