MGNREGA: SC raps Centre over inadequate fund allocation in drought-hit states
New Delhi: In a severe reprimand for the central government over its failure to release adequate funds to states for the rural jobs guarantee scheme MGNREGA, the Supreme Court today asked the Centre to provide details of expenditure on the scheme in drought-hit states.
The relief, the top court said, has to be provided now and not after one year.
"We told the court how through an informal cap, by not releasing funds, the Centre is slowly killing MNREGA which actually plays a huge role in providing relief to people during a drought," said petitioner Yogendra Yadav.
"The Centre hasn't released funds for last year, that's why no new works are being announced either," he added.
Rapping the Narendra Modi-led government over the issue, a bench headed by Justice MB Lokur said, "If you are not releasing the funds, then no one will like to work. States will say they have no funds, so they can't pay anyone for MGNREGA work. No state will make any commitment to the people."
"Relief has to be given immediately and not after one year. Temperature is soaring at 45 degree celsius, there is no drinking water, nothing is there. You have to do some thing and provide relief on time," the bench said.
It said as per government's own figures, average workdays is 48 days, while the statute says it should be 100 days.
"The argument holds substance that since you (Centre) are not releasing the funds, states are not willing to allocate works to people under MGNREGA and hence the average workdays will fall," the bench also comprising Justice N V Ramana said.
"We should realize that there is problem. Nine states and now Rajasthan have declared drought. It is difficult to believe that there is no drought in Bundelkhand and Marathwada," the bench said.
Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand informed the bench that Rs 7,983 crore will be released by the Centre in a couple of days towards wage liability, while Rs 2,400 crore material liability will be cleared in June.
She said that Rs 2,723 crore was being released as wage reliability for the drought affected states.
(With agency inputs)