The UPA government’s ambitious rural employment project has come under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court, which on Wednesday said money was not reaching real beneficiaries and in many cases going to wrong hands.
“There is no uniform policy. The money is not reaching actual beneficiaries,” a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) K.G. Balakrishnan said.
The Bench, which expressed concern over implementation of MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act), said several projects under the scheme are failing as the funds allocated for them either remain unutilised or in many cases money lands up in wrong hands.
“There has been distribution of money. But in many cases, it is going to wrong persons and real beneficiaries do not receive the cash,” it said.
The Bench said that money under MGNREGA is not an ex-gratia payment as people in villages are assured that money is guaranteed in lieu of the work performed by them. The CJI said funds under CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority) is given to villages for their development.
“There should be some real development at the ground level,” the Bench said while highlighting the purpose of MGNREGA for the success of which the CJI has taken keen interest in the last couple of years.
“The CJI himself has taken keen interest in MGNREGA and taken initiatives in organising seminars on it,” Justice Verma said.
The Bench, which was hearing the petition filed by an NGO Centre for Environment and Food Security, seeking proper utilisation of the funds allocated under the Act, appreciated the efforts of its advocate Mayank Mishra who placed before it some suggestions for effective utilisation of funds for the projects.