Ground Report | New Delhi: In MGNREGA; Social Audit Units (SAUs) under the Department of Rural Development has found financial irregularities worth Rs 935 crore in various MGNREGA schemes in the last four years. Under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), people in rural areas are provided employment through various schemes.
According to the figures, till now only 12.5 crores ie. 1.34 percent has been paid. These figures are from the year 2017-18 to the year 2020-21. In the year 2017-18, these figures started being uploaded on the website. Since then, SAU has audited 2.65 lakh gram panchayats in several states and union territories at least once in the last four years.
In MGNREGA misappropriation of Rs 935 crore
The central government had released Rs 55,659.93 crore for MNREGA in 2017-18 and since then this amount has been increasing. The expenditure on this scheme has reached Rs 1,10,355.27 crore in the year 2020-21. The total expenditure on this scheme has increased from Rs 63,649.48 crore in 2017-18 to Rs 1,11,405.3 crore in 2020-21, Indian Express reported.
The audit found several financial irregularities, including bribery, payment of counterfeiters, and exorbitant prices of goods to counterfeit sellers. The maximum financial irregularities of Rs 245 crore have been found in Tamil Nadu. Apart from this, disturbances have been found in Karnataka, Bihar, West Bengal, Gujarat, and Jharkhand.
At the same time, no financial irregularities have been found in MGNREGA in Rajasthan, Kerala, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Ladakh, Andaman and Nicobar, Lakshadweep, Puducherry, Dadar and Nagar, Daman, and Diu.
Union Rural Development Secretary Nagendra Nath Sinha has recently written a letter to the Chief Secretaries of all the states asking why there has been so little return in the Rural Development Department of the state.
Uploaded data is not critical
He told the newspaper, “Yes, we have written to all the states. Not paying attention to this aspect is one issue. Second, it is not easy to determine the fault of the person responsible for irregularities and without SOP (Standard Operating Procedure)”.
One of these experts who is based in Jharkhand said: “Moreover, in 2020-21, the uploaded data is not critical, as in many states, including Jharkhand, the concurrent audit was conducted and there was no provision to upload the data. Not there. MIS of RDD. Combined with the fact that gram panchayats have been surveyed only once in many states, the total embezzled amount could be at least three to four times (identified amount).”
There is a major requirement for SAU to be independent. Releasing the Social Audit Assessment Index Report in June 2020, RDD Secretary Sinha had said: “…disappointingly, it is noted that half of the SAUs are not independent and are not affected by the quality of the audits and the intensity of action on the findings.”