Bengal Taking Precautions to Prevent Misuse of MGNREGA Funds: Officials
The government of West Bengal is taking careful steps to prevent any misuse of funds. The officials who are in charge say that this is following an announcement by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Now, the people who should get money from MGNREGA will be paid their pending salaries.
The Department of Panchayat and Rural Development in the State gives out instructions with a clear purpose: to make sure that no fake beneficiaries get any money. For this, they carry out a thorough checking process. This process includes checking each data point against the first list, so it examines Aadhaar cards and bank accounts for everyone named as beneficiaries again. We will also put passwords on the new Excel documents that have the names of beneficiaries. Only Block Development Officers (BDOs) will have exclusive access to these files.
On the 3rd of February, in a protest by Trinamool Congress, Banerjee promised to pay back the delayed salaries for two years to 2.1 million people who benefit from MGNREGA; she kept this promise even when in 2021 the Central Government stopped giving their part of money. Because of that, The Enforcement Directorate started looking into corruption claims related to how Bengal managed this program and they conducted searches at four places.
Banerjee puts her accusation in the current political fight between TMC and BJP, saying that Rs. 6,913 crores of MGNREGA funds from 2021-22 have not been given by the Centre; she says these amounts never came to her. On the other side, BJP disagrees with her words. They claim giving out this money to West Bengal’s government is wrong because they say it goes from state money into bank accounts that don’t exist and then secretly sent to TMC leaders.
Workers from the Panchayat department go house to house carefully checking everything to protect the honesty of the process, before they make a final list of people who will benefit. Banks then double-check this list. The department for Panchayats plans to send money to the District Magistrates by February 19, who are supposed to receive it; then on February 21, they will put this money into specific bank accounts.
In October last year, Sadvi Niranjan Jyoti who was the Union Minister of State for Rural Development made a conditional promise: The Centre will quickly release funds if the state government provides a detailed report of its spending until then. On February 3rd, Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi; she strongly disagreed with a recent Comptroller and Auditor General’s report. This report underscored prevalent delays in submitting utilization certificates for various central schemes.