Centre accused of MGNREGA ‘data fraud’, late release of funds

Why is the Centre delaying in releasing wages under MGNREGA to non-BJP-ruled states compared to BJP-ruled states?

NH Photo by Vipin
NH Photo by Vipin


What explains the delay of just six days in making payments under MGNREGA in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh but a delay of 89 days in Kerala? In both the cases authorities in the two states had processed the work payment order within the stipulated 15 days, which indicated that the states had done due diligence and completed the paperwork.

While three independent researchers have painstakingly calculated the timeline in each case in different states, social scientist and Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav interprets the data to show deliberate delay by the central government in releasing funds to non-BJP states.

Based on an analysis of 92 Lakh transactions in 3,400 panchayats all over the country, the data show an average delay for wages in Madhya Pradesh as 6 days, in Jharkhand 9 days, in Chhattisgarh 13 days and in Rajasthan—all of them ruled by the BJP-as 12 days.

Data provided by Rajendra Narayanan, Sakina Dhorajiwala and Rajesh Golani
Data provided by Rajendra Narayanan, Sakina Dhorajiwala and Rajesh Golani
The table showing partiality to BJP ruled states in allocation of MGNREGA funds

In sharp contrast, the average delay in similar cases in Kerala was found to be 89 days, 41 days in Bihar, 40 days in UP, 34 days in Odisha and 26 days in West Bengal—all states ruled by non-BJP parties.

Since in all these cases the paperwork had been processed within 15 days in all these states, better governance or efficiency cannot be cited as an alibi, pointed out Yadav.

In a large number of other cases, however, states have been guilty of taking inordinately long time in processing work orders. Instead of the stipulated 15 days, average number of days taken by Kerala in these cases is 26, 101 days by West Bengal, 65 days by Odisha and UP, 64 days by Chhattisgarh, 57 days by Bihar and 46 days by Jharkhand.

In all these cases, the Centre took additional 89 days for Kerala, as many as 106 days for UP, 60 days for Madhya Pradesh, 34 days for Odisha and 55 days for Rajasthan before releasing payments under MGNREGA.

“Although, delayed payment is a nationwide anomaly in the implementation of MGNREGA, the situation in non-BJP ruled states is worse as it suits the political agenda of the central government,” Yadav said while addressing the media on Friday in Delhi.

“If you see the chart of the average delay in the payment, you will come to know the politics involved in MANREGA. BJP ruled states such as Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have better payment record than non-BJP ruled states,” he added.

Data provided by Rajendra Narayanan, Sakina Dhorajiwala and Rajesh Golani
Data provided by Rajendra Narayanan, Sakina Dhorajiwala and Rajesh Golani
A graphic showing state wise variation in wage credit 

He also accused the central government of tweaking the definition of delayed payment “in an apparent bid to take political milaeage.”

A researcher associated with Azim Premji university, Rajendran Narayan addressed the conference and said, “since government considers generation of invoice/ voucher as payment done, the end result is not taken into consideration.”

“Besides the intention of the government, flawed methods, lack of accountability and arbitrary powers are the three important issues that should be addressed in regard to delayed payments,” he summarised.

The MGNREGA Act stipulates that wages be paid within 15 days of the work. For every day of delay thereafter, there is a provision for paying compensation. But the rule is breached more often than not. According to the government’s own submission, it has to release ₹519 crore as compensatory fund, of which only ₹3 crores have been released so far.

Questioning the government’s “data fraud”, Yogendra Yadav said that the central government should give ₹1200 crore as penalty. But by tweaking the method, it has reduced its liability from ₹1200 crore to ₹519 crore, he alleged.

The conference was attended by eminent lawyer Prashant Bhushan, activist Nikhil Dey and Anuradha Talwar.

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Published: 04 Aug 2017, 6:46 PM