A war of letters appears to have intensified between the centre and the state government even as the centre finally releasing an additional sum of Rs 1049.33 crore for the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) in Uttar Pradesh.
Along with the release of the central funds union minister for rural development Jairam Ramesh has sent three letters to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav in the past three days informing him that a lot of irregularities have come to the centre's notice in the implementation of the MNREGA in the state.
"A sum of Rs 420 crore has been released so far for the implementation of the MNREGA in 2012-2013. We have now released an additional sum of Rs 1049.33 crore," said Ramesh in one of his letters dated May 21, 2013.
"A number of irregularities have been found in the implementation of the MNREGA in the state. I have been informing you about the same. I hope you will act on my suggestions. You will continue to get our cooperation," said the union minister.
In another letter sent on May 20, 2013 Ramesh has given a point to point rebuttal of the state government's contention on the issue. Ramesh has said, "IN 2012-2013 the labour budget for UP was Rs 3394.98 lakh.
On April 1, 2012 the balance with the state government was Rs 1468.98 crore. It was later revised to Rs 1654.71 crore. This indicates that the funds were not used efficiently last year.
In his third letter sent on May 20 Ramesh refers to the delay in payment of wages to the contractual workers. Minister has pointed out that the total expenditure under the MNREGA came down in 2012-2013. The state government's request for release of the administrative expenses was being examined, he said.
Significantly chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had also sent a letter to Ramesh on April 26, 2013 demanding release of MNREGA funds to the state government.
Besides chief minister other Samajwadi Party leaders have also been launching attacks on the centre for not releasing adequate funds to the state government.
Minister of state (independent charge) for rural development Arvind Kumar Singh alias Gope had also recently rebutted the union minister's charges about the state government's failure to achieve the targets during the last fiscal year.
Ramesh's letter may now give new dimensions to the ongoing war of words between the centre and the state government over the implementation of MNREGA in the state.
Already senior Congress leader Sanjay Dixit has launched a "MNREGA Bachao Abhiyan" to draw the people's attention towards the state government's failure to implement the MNREGA. Dixit said the union minister's letters had exposed the state government's claims on the issue.