Rural Dev minister ‘lied’, MGNREGA liabilities around Rs 360 Cr

Syed Junaid Hashmi

JAMMU: Contrary to claims made by Minister for Rural Development Abdul Haq Khan, Union Ministry of Rural Development has laid bare the facts about the MGNREGA unskilled wage liability of Jammu and Kashmir.

Centre’s flagship programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), continues to work on crutches as state owes a whopping liability of Rs. 360.32 Crore in terms of wages to labourers and cost of material used for executing development works. According to the Union Ministry of Rural Development, state government’s liability of previous years is Rs. 262.51 Crore while the liability for the current financial year is around Rs. 97.81 Crore.

The state did just 27 percent of the wage expenditure in the financial year 2016-17. The state government has also violated the guidelines of MGNREGA regarding the payment of wages to labourers in the stipulated time as labourers have not been paid wages for the development works executed about six months ago.

It needs to be mentioned here that the Minister for Rural Development Abdul Haq Khan had during the recently concluded budget session claimed that no liability was pending in any district of the state. He had even said that old liability worth Rs 450 Crore was there after new government took over but that entire liability has now been cleared. An amount of Rs 531 Crore was received this year for works under MGNREGA and there was no paucity of funds as well, the minister had claimed.

But with union Rural Development Ministry coming up with facts and figures communicated by the state government, questions are being raised as to why the Minister lied in the legislative assembly about the liabilities. “This is unfortunate and speaks in volumes about how this government is bent in destroying all the institutions. A cabinet minister should not have lied in the legislative assembly if he had failed to deliver. He should have laid bare the facts. MGNREGA is in mess all over the state and the minister is not at all interested in correcting the wrongs,” said ex-Home Minister and NC MLC from Kishtwar Sajjad Kitchloo.

He further said that the mess is likely to increase in the days ahead. “The Minister is bent on destroying the department. He is not at all worried about MGNREGA having become a den of corruption,” added Sajjad. However, Secretary Rural Development Department Kifayat Rizwi said that he has no such information about pending liabilities. “I will look into this. But if there are some liabilities, they would all be cleared in the coming days since centre has cleared a huge amount under this scheme for the state. It is reaching us in a day or two,” added Rizwi.

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