Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday expressed serious concern over the large-scale corruption in the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee programme (MGNREGA) in UP and cautioned the state government not to shield the corrupt officials allegedly involved in it.
Addressing a news conference here, Jairam said he would again request Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to recommend a CBI probe in order to punish the guilty officials who had blatantly misused the MGNREGA funds in at least six districts of the state during the ertswhile Mayawati-led BSP Government’s tenure.
“I know how they are being shielded by the current administration”, he said.
Incidentally, a top official, who has been in the dock over alleged corruption in the MGNREGA, is posted in the Chief Minister’s Office.
Ramesh, meanwhile, announced that an audit of the MGNREGA programmes is being conducted all over the country and the final report is expected to be submitted by January-end. He added that an audit would also be conducted at the Gram Panchayat-level to stem the leakage.
He strongly rebutted the charge that the MGNREGA had triggered a crisis in the farm sector. “It is a canard being spread by the feudal forces and powerful land landlords who are not ready to pay minimum wages to the labourers,” he said.
He also voiced concern over the gender bias in the biggest employment scheme launched in the country yet. According to the minister, women were getting 50 to 70 per cent of the jobs in other states, while in UP hardly 20 per cent of the MGNREGA jobs went to women. Terming the situation pathetic, Jairam said he would take it up with the CM especially since the MGNREGA was originally meant to encourage the participation of women in the rural areas.