Fake job cards and job cards taken away from beneficiaries to be misused, were factors in Assam providing employment to only 9.03% of 39.21 lakh rural households under the centrally-sponsored MGNREGS from 2007-2012.
The five years were also marked by misappropriation and diversion of funds, parking of unutilised money in personal accounts and procurement of material at exorbitant rates, a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report released here on Tuesday said.
The CAG’s study revealed that in one district (Lakhimpur) alone, Rs 35.82 lakh was paid fraudulently through 796 fake job card holders issued by seven gram panchayats (GPs) under two blocks. These GPs had, however, issued 1,366 fake job cards.
Two other districts – Kamrup and Darrang – were also found guilty of issuing 7,776 excess job cards that were either used by non-beneficiaries or by ‘double card holders’.
The CAG further found cases of job cards, along with post office pass books in many cases, being taken away from beneficiaries in violation of scheme guidelines. For instance, four panchayati raj institution members seized job cards from 177 households from Dampur village while GP members of Saniadi village (both in Kamrup district) wrested 238 job cards along with PO pass books.
There were cases, too, of a GP (in Cachar district) holding back 840 job cards for households of Kasipur village but showing them as having been issued.
“The Centre’s flagship project was also marred by large-scale anomalies such as diversion and unauthorised utilisation of funds, and procurement of material at high rates,” accountant general CH Kharshiing said.
He added that out of Rs 4152.54 crore available with Assam for MGNREGS during 2007-12, Rs 4060.48 crore was reported to have been spent on generation of 100-day employment. But only 3.54 lakh out of 39.21 lakh registered households got employment for the mandated days.
This translates into 12-37 days per households per year and 9.03% of the total beneficiaries.
The audit period, though, was not without a few positives. One of them was 23-41% employment provided to women workers in two Sixth Scheduled districts of Karbi Anglong and Chirang. In the remaining districts, the women’s share of work ranged from 13-19%.