Bengal to recover ‘funnelled’ Central scheme funds, gives September 9 to officials 

The decision of recovering the fund was taken in a virtual meeting between panchayat department officials and officers assigned to oversee development works in districts.

Published: 21st August 2022 09:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st August 2022 12:13 PM   |  A+A-

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

KOLKATA: In an unprecedented move, the West Bengal government has directed its government wings, including panchayats, to recover funds by September 9 in the 100-day job scheme projects where malpractices were reported.

The instruction came after the Centre made it clear that the release of more money under the MGNREGA for the 2022-23 financial year may depend on the state’s effort to act against those responsible for alleged anomalies detected by a national monitoring team.

The Centre is yet to release the labour budget under the scheme for 2022-23 fiscal.

The state panchayat department issued the deadline for recovering the money, asking gram panchayats and panchayat samitis to act promptly.

“A survey held by the social audit unit of the panchayat and rural development department found many projects where expenditure was shown on paper, but the work was not done. The unit recommended that we recover the money spent on such projects,’’ said a panchayat department official.

Funds under the 100-day job scheme are released for two categories — payment for unskilled labourers and the cost of construction or raw material.

“The gram panchayats and panchayat samitis have been told to recover the money spent for procuring material within the stipulated deadline. The contractors of the projects, identified by the social audit unit, will also have to refund the money,’’ said the official.

The decision of recovering the fund was taken in a virtual meeting between panchayat department officials and officers assigned to oversee development works in districts.

The state government’s decision is said to acknowledge the allegation of malpractice raised by the Central team that visited West Bengal in 2019 and 2021. The Centre stopped the release of funds under MGNREGA from December last year.

A month ago, the Central team asked four district authorities to pay a penalty for malpractice under the scheme.

Sources in the state administration said the state government was asked to recover the funds misappropriated in some schemes from guilty individuals, but as the state did not initiate any action, the Centre decided to hold up the funds.

“The state government had sent an action taken report last year, which failed to satisfy the Centre. The state government was asked to send a fresh ATR report the same year. The Centre then prohibited the release of funds for the state,” said an official in the state secretariat.

“Now the instruction to recover the misappropriated fund by Sept 9 seems aimed at satisfying the Centre so that the state can receive funds under MGNREGA,’’ said the official.

Funds stopped by Centre over misappropriation

The state government’s decision is said to acknowledge the allegation of malpractice raised by the Central team that visited West Bengal in 2019 and 2021.

The Centre stopped the release of funds under MGNREGA in December last year. 

A month ago, the Central team asked four district authorities to pay a penalty for malpractice under the scheme.

Sources say the state government was asked to recover the funds misappropriated in some schemes from guilty individuals



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