Government didn’t prevent NREGS fund diversion: Apex court

Monday, December 13, 2010

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court Monday pulled up the central government for doing nothing to prevent states’ diversion of funds allocated under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee SCheme (MGNREGs).

“This is a very serious issue,” the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar.

The court was hearing a petition of NGO Centre for Environment and Food Security.

“You do nothing when the funds are diverted by state governments,” the court observed.

“When there is diversion of funds, do you take any action against any state government?” the court asked the central government.

The court’s observation came in the wake of submission by senior counsel Prashant Bhushan that there was corruption in the implementation of the job security scheme.

He told the court that the apex court had also passed an order laying down certain guidelines but most of the states have not followed these.

Chief Justice Kapadia said the petitioner pointed to alleged diversion of funds and lapses in the supply of food grain in lieu of cash payment.

The court asked the central government to give a report on the funds allocated to Orissa under the NREGS.

The court said that it might ask the chief secretary of Orissa to appear in person to answer its queries.

Chief Justice Kapadia said that the court would deal with one state at a time. “We would take drastic action against one state and other states would follow and implement the scheme and things would improve,” he said.

The next hearing in the matter is slated for Thursday.

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