Fresh tussle between Centre and Bengal govt over 'misutilisation' of MNREGA fund
The West Bengal state government and the Centre are back at each other throats - this time over funds provided by the latter under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA).
The latest tussle began after the Ministry of Rural Development at the Centre shot off a letter to the state panchayat department asking them to return Rs 186 crore fund given for 2017-18 as it claimed the fund had been used for "digging private ponds, which is not under the scheme of MNREGA."
A senior official of the state government said, “We will send a letter to the Ministry of Rural and Panchayat Department furnishing full details of the work undertaken under MNREGA in 2017-18, and will also attach reports the officers of the Ministry has sent to West Bengal after they took a stock of the work undertaken under the schemes.“
According to him, funds are released only after the state sends a detailed project report to the Centre. "How is it possible that after Central government officers took a stock of the work undertaken under the scheme and approved the funds, the funds have been diverted?”
This is not the only notification that has come from the Centre asking various departments to rerun funds.
Sources in the Bengal government say that a few days ago, the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs sent a letter to Calcutta University asking it to return the Rs 10 crore fund that had been sanctioned in 2009 for building up a stadium. "The stadium has already been set up and we have sent all details to the Ministry after receiving their letter," the source says.
Subrata Mukherjee, state panchayat and rural development minister said, “The central government has always accused West Bengal in various sectors for poor utilisation of funds. But in 2017, West Bengal has bagged six awards from the Ministry of Rural and Panchayat Department for excellent work in rural development. Our officers will send details, attaching all the documents again, to the Centre for their review.”
According to BJP leaders, the state has failed to look after the welfare of the people. "We have urged the Central leadership to investigate the funds that has been approved under various Central schemes as we have received reports that it has been misutilised. As Centre is providing money, they have full right to ask the state government to return money which has been misutilised,” says state BJP president Dilip Ghosh.