Saturday, October 29, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Mayawati rejects MNREGA scam charge, slams Centre

Mayawati rejects MNREGA scam charge, slams Centre
Ashish Tripathi, TNN | Oct 28, 2011, 04.31PM IST

LUCKNOW: Describing union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh's
letter citing a huge scam in implementation of schemes under National
Rural Employment Guarantee (NREGA) as "politically motivated and
misleading", UP chief minister and BSP supremo Mayawati hit back at
the Central government.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, she not only described
the allegations as a bundle of lies but has also reminded that Jairam
Ramesh is trying to undermine the federal structure of the country by
interfering in the state's domain. Mayawati said that state government
has ordered economic offence wing of the state police to probe the
irregularities and asked Prime Minister to intervene for release of
funds under MNREGA to carry out schemes for poor.

Later, addressing a press conference, UP cabinet secretary Shashank
Manohar, while speaking on behalf of the chief minister, raised doubts
over central government's intentions over the timing of the letter
saying that the state government received government's letter on
October 24, whereas the information was already published in the

Shekhar also said that UP has been on the top for three continuous
years for successfully implementing MNREGA schemes.

Commenting on Jairam's demand of ordering a Central Bureau of
Investigation (CBI) probe into the alleged corrupt practices in the
NREGA in the districts of Balrampur, Gonda, Mahoba, Sonebhadra, Sant
Kabir Nagar, Mirzapur and Kushinagar, the cabinet secretary said "as
far as the letter is concerned no specific allegations have been
mentioned it's just a general letter."

He also said that the state quality monitor has been looking after the
schemes and it's role has already been appreciated.

Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh had on October 25 asked the
Uttar Pradesh government to order a CBI probe into alleged
misappropriation of funds under the rural job guarantee scheme in some
districts. The UP government must pave the way for the CBI probe if it
has nothing to hide, he stated in the letter. He also said that the
annual budget of MNREGA scheme in UP had increased to over Rs 5,000
crore and the performance of scheme in the state was poor in
comparison to other states. He warned the state government that
funding for the scheme may have to be stopped, but said his ministry
would not resort to any such decision, though it had the powers to do
so, as it would lead to unnecessarily punishing the poor for a crime
they had not committed.

In response, Mayawati has overlooked Jairam Ramesh and written
directly to the Prime Minister.

In her letter she states: "Mr Prime Minister, I wish to bring to your
notice, the utter disregard of propriety shown by the union minister
for rural development has attempted to score political points by
alleging misuse of funds received by the UP, under the MGNREGA scheme.
Interestingly, the letter was released to the media, much before my
office received it, further confirming the intentions of the Minister.
It would be appropriate if the minister is apprised of the Centre
State Fiscal Arrangements provided in our constitution. He would then
realize, that funds released to the state for various schemes such as
MGNREGA area not a largesse bestowed by the centre but form a part of
the revenue sharing mechanism under our Federal System."

Maya, further, states " It is quite obvious that Jairam Ramesh has a
preconceived agenda and has arrived at conclusions without taking any
cognizance of the various steps taken by my Government for ensuring an
effective implementation of the said scheme. I would like to bring to
your notice measures undertaken by the UP government in pursuance of
my clear directives to ensure that schemes like MGNREGA are properly
implemented. UP has been a pioneer in the implementation of MGNREGA.
The progress of the last three years in implementing this scheme has
clearly placed UP in the top performing bracket, way above most other
states. I am attaching a chart summarizing the key performance
indicators available on the website of the union rural development
ministry. The achievement of the state in terms of household coverage,
employment generation and expenditure incurred is clearly evident."

Mayawati alo writes, "UP was among the first state to have enhanced
the minimum wages and from 2008 onwards, all wage payments to job card
holders are made through bank/post office accounts. About three
fourths of the program funds are spent through the Gram Panchayats. As
regards the baseless allegation of the minister regarding inaction on
the National Level Monitors (NLM) reports, I would like to inform you
that 67 reports have been received since the inception of this scheme
till date. Detailed Action Taken Reports (ATRs) on 49 NLM reports have
already been submitted to the ministry of union rural development.
Actions with respect to the remaining NLM reports are in progress at
various levels. As of now, actions such as, suspensions and
disciplinary proceedings have been taken against 27 Class I officials,
38 Class II officials and 69 Class III officials along with 236 field
level functionaries. Seventy one FIRs have been lodged in cases of
financial irregularities. An amount of Rs. 53.97 lakh has been
recovered and recovery proceedings are under progress for Rs. 131

UP chief minister has also clarified in the letter "In so far as the 7
districts mentioned in the letter are concerned, departmental
proceedings have been initiated against 6 chief development officers
(additional program coordinator), 7 project directors /district
development officers (joint district program coordinator), 28 block
development officers (program officers) and more than 40 field level
officials. Apart from this, actions against a superintending engineer,
a divisional forest official, four executive engineers, there
assistant engineers. 16 junior engineers and 28 gram pradhans have
been initiated. Proceedings against two district magistrates (district
program coordinator) is pending consideration."

Slamming Jairam Ramesh, Mayawti states in the letter "Ironically,
minister's letter has appreciated the state government's initiative in
appointing State Quality Monitors (SQM) with impeccable integrity for
ensuring proper program monitoring especially with respect to field
level implementation. It would be pertinent to mention here, that just
a few months back, the union minister of rural development had sent a
high level committee under chairmanship of Pradeep Bhargava for field
inspections. The committee after undertaking extensive field
inspections, appreciated the various initiatives and efforts made by
state government".

Mayawati also attached an extract of the central committee's report
with her letter and said that Jairam Ramesh had deliberately sought to
generalize his subjective impressions formed during his interactions
with one NGO which is working in Chitrakoot.

"Furthermore, he has tried to make sweeping generalizations from
certain findings with respect to only seven districts, conveniently
forgetting that the State of UP has 75 districts. The reference of the
minister in respect of withholding the release under MGNREGA only
highlights his utter lack of understanding of the fiscal federalism
inherent in our Constitution. He seems to think that Central grants
for sponsored programs are discretion discretion he bestows on states;
distinct signs of a colonial hangover. The minister has shown a
blatant disregard of the 'Rules of Business" by drawing parallels with
the NRHM investigations, which has no connection, whatsoever, with his
Ministry. He suggests a CBI inquiry, as if the state government does
not have its own agencies," she said.

Mayawati also stated, "We have taken appropriate actions in the past
and I am taking due cognizance of the Minister's letter. I have also
directed the Economic Offences Wing of the state police to undertake
expeditious investigations into the alleged irregularities and bring
to task those responsible. The state has already spent more than sixty
percent of the funds available and has sent proposals for release of
the second tranche along with all the necessary certificates. I would,
therefore, request you to intervene in this matter and ensure the
timely release of funds so as to facilitate the continued
implementation of the scheme. The centre and state should stand
together to secure the legal livelihood entitlements of all the needy

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