The Centre on Tuesday told Supreme Court that there were allegations of corruption in implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in Tripura, which goes to polls on February 18.
“As far as Tripura is concerned, serious allegations of corruption was there and our audit team had gone there,” senior counsel V Mohana, representing the Centre, told a bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice N V Ramana. She later explained that the state had sought more funds, but owing to allegations of corruption, an audit team visited the state last year and submitted a report in which it referred to some “irregularities”.
The submission came during the hearing of a petition filed by Swaraj Abhiyan, a socio-political outfit, seeking relief measures in drought-hit areas across the country. Swaraj Abhiyan counsel Prashant Bhushan said that the Centre had slashed the number of workdays under MGNREGA, following which Tripura raised the issue.
“The Centre is forcing states to reduce total demand with the result that the total number of employment people get is 40-45 days (per family a year) instead of the assured 100 days,” he said and added that the disbursal was done digitally now — directly to beneficiaries — and the software stops allocation after it has reached a limit. The bench, meanwhile, asked if it was open to a state to approach the Supreme Court, seeking implementation of a legislation made by the Centre.
Bhushan said the concept of a labour budget “violated the spirit of MNREGA as fiscal limit cannot be an excuse to the state not fulfilling its obligation to provide the promised job days”. A budgetary constraint can be cited only beyond 100 days, he added.