NREGS: Ramesh pulls up state

Stating that many serious irregularities have come to light in the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) in some districts of Karnataka , Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday took the Karnataka government to task for failing to take action.

Speaking to media persons after visiting family toilets built under the Parishud Grama Yojana by Infosys Foundation at Gamvar village in Jewargi taluk, Mr Ramesh said the Centre had several times asked the state government to take action, but the latter had failed to do this so far. “The responsibility to take action against the misuse of funds lies with the state government. We can order a CBI inquiry, but we can do that only on the recommendation of the state government”, he added.

The Centre had asked the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) to conduct a performance audit of all states with the report slated to be submitted by the first week of December. “There is no politics involved in this, the CAG audit will look into NREGS implementation in all states including those ruled by the Congress”, Mr Ramesh said.

The Union minister made it clear that the Centre will not stop or reduce the release of funds to Karnataka because of the irregularities in MGNREGS. “I’ve already assured the state governments that we are ready to enhance the grants by 25-30 per cent. But so far there is no response from any state”, he said. Mr Ramesh also said there was a glaring difference in the figures given by the state government and the data obtained from the Census report on the number of families practising open defecation.

“While the 2011 Census report says only 34 per cent of families have sanitation coverage, the reports given by the state government put the figure at 64%. There is a need to arrive at the right figure”, he explained. Underscoring the need to bring about a revolution in the construction of toilets in the country, Mr Ramesh said the decision whether to make family toilets mandatory would be left to the respective state governments.

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