The corruption in MGNREGA scheme has been stopped by making payment of wages directly to the bank accounts of labourers and strengthening the monitoring system, government said in Rajya Sabha on Monday.
“There used to be massive corruption…There was perception that MGNREGA means loot. We have put a stop to the loot and lies through DBT (Direct Benefit transfer),” Minister of State for Rural Development Ram Kripal Yadav claimed during the Question Hour.
There were a number of deficiencies and the government has taken several measures to improve the transparency. “To curb corruption, we have taken the DBT route for making payment of wages. We are also strictly monitoring the scheme.”
The budget for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has also been raised by Rs 5,000 crore to Rs 43,500 crore for this fiscal, he said.
The Minister also made it clear that the scheme “will not be closed but will be strengthened… It is a special direction from the Prime Minister not to compromise on this scheme,” he said while responding to a query raised by Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien.
To a query raised by NCP leader Vandana Chavan on the gap in demand and supply of jobs under the scheme, the Minister said the government had provided employment to around 4.82 crore families in 2015-16.
The government’s priority is to create more jobs and also set up assets especially irrigation and farm sector, he added.
Dissatisfied with the MoS reply, Chavan asked if the government will audit the scheme, Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said “it is a demand-driven scheme. Many times, there is a situation where there is more demand but less people come (to join the scheme). Hence, there is a gap.”
Responding to a question on asset creation, Yadav said that 61 per cent of the total funds of the scheme was spent on creating assets, especially irrigation and farm related works in 2015-16.
“We are spending a lot and giving emphasis on asset creation,” he said.
On the question of delay in payment of wages, Yadav said “I do accept that there was some delay in payment of wages in the past few years. This is mainly due to lack of funds. …When our government took over, the entire budget money was released. There is no shortage of funds.”