Updated: August 8, 2021 7:46:43 am
Payment of wages worth around Rs 220 crore is pending under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) in Gujarat owing to non-release of grants from the Centre, as officials indicated.
Meanwhile, Independent MLA from Vadgam Jignesh Mevani said Saturday that for over one lakh persons who worked under the MNREGS in the state, payment of over Rs 212 crore toward wages are pending for processing by bank. Mevani has claimed that the pendency is owing to a lack of grant from the Centre.
Predominantly tribal districts of Dahod and Panchmahal appear to be most affected by pending wages, with fund transfer orders (FTOs) worth Rs 46.79 crore and Rs 16.66 crore pending for the districts respectively.
As publicly available data suggests on the MNREGA website, transactions as of May 28 of this year remain pending to be credited to the beneficiaries’ bank accounts. As calculated by The Sunday Express from publicly available data, FTO pending for processing by banks for credit in beneficiaries’ bank accounts is Rs 214.72 crore across 33 districts of the state.
Additionally payment of wages FTOs pending for processing in post offices amount to Rs 17 lakh and another Rs 5 crore worth of wage FTOs are pending for processing by cooperative banks. In total, this would then amount to worth Rs 220 crore of wage FTOs pending.
In Gujarat, for the financial year 2021-22, till date a total of Rs 673 crore has been disbursed in wages through electronic fund management system (e-FMS). For the financial year of 2020-21, a total of Rs 955 crore worth of wages was disbursed. Rural development commissioner Sonal Mishra said, “There is a process wherein as we receive the central grant, the same is then disbursed to the beneficiaries’ accounts.”
Explaining the FTO process, state nodal officer for MNREGA Yogiraj Shete said, “The entire process is online. FTOs are generated based on muster roll and a bunch of FTOs are bundled for payment processing for technical reasons. The FTOs to be paid, are paid from the wage account of the central government and this amount is credited to the state government’s wage account. This is then credited to the beneficiary’s account. Since it’s an electronic system, once processed and the amount is debited from the central government, the wage can be in the beneficiary’s account within hours.”
The MNREG Act also ensures that if the payment is not received in 15 days, the beneficiary is entitled to delay payment at the rate of 0.05 percent of unpaid wages per day of delay beyond the 16th day of closure of muster roll.
Commenting on the delayed payment, additional commissioner of rural development in-charge of the MNREGS programme in the state Narad Yadav said, “Currently we are seeing a lot of demand for work under MNREGS…there is a technical issue which will be sorted out very soon. There are some formalities remaining with finance section of the rural development department of the central government…This is a demand-based programme and since there is a lot of demand, the amount of (wage) payment also goes up…it is not that such issues are common, but neither is it the case where this is happening for the first time.”
MNREGA website, however, shows that person days generated in Gujarat exceeded the projected person days in the month of April and May but have seen a decline in demand in June and July.
Mevani during his address to mediapersons stated that the Centre’s failure to release grants for the work done by the poorest strata of society “is an attempt to discourage people from utilising MNREGS”.
“There is a design to discourage the very purpose of this Act…If funds can be released for MPLADs and MLALADs then why not for this scheme? The Chief Minister celebrated the Rojgar Divas programme on Friday. Forget generating new employment, they can’t even pay pending wages,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mevani wrote to the Chief Minister on August 5 seeking payment of wages worth eight crore rupees under MNREGS for the district of Banaskantha.
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