BENGALURU: Rural Development Minister H K Patil on Friday accused the Centre of cutting funds for programmes implemented under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), especially in Congress-ruled states.
Patil told reporters that while the Centre is generous in releasing these grants to BJP-ruled states, it is neglecting states ruled by the Congress. He said the UPA government had approved an outlay of Rs.3,115 crore for the state for 2014-15 based on the state’s performance in implementing the scheme. But only Rs.1,367 crore has been released so far, he said.
“The scheme has envisaged a mandate to provide employment to rural people on demand, and any failure would amount to breach of law,” Patil added.
Releasing data to support his charges, he said the Centre had released Rs.1,126 crore to Madhya Pradesh, Rs.1,009.5 crore to Chhattisgarh and Rs.1,379 crore to Rajasthan(all BJP-ruled states). He said only Rs.927.89 crore has been released to Karnataka after the BJP came to power at the Centre. Maintaining that the Centre cannot afford to block the grants, he said, “It is the right of the people to receive (funds) from the Central government.”
Condemning statements by a few BJP leaders that the state’s performance in the total sanitation programme as well as in implementing schemes under the MGNREGA is “rigged,” he challenged both BJP state president Prahlad Joshi and former chief minister Jagadish Shettar for an open debate on the issue.
“If both the leaders have any concern for the welfare of rural people, they should put pressure on the Centre not to cut funds to the state,” he said. “People of the state will not tolerate any step-motherly treatment of the Centre,” he said.
The government has decided to launch a programme wherein accumulated garbage of about 50 villages in Gadag district will be converted into manure, he said.