SC notice on PIL for timely disbursements in rural job programme

New Delhi, Nov 2 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the central government on a PIL seeking proper implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and timely payment of wages, compensation, unemployment allowance and clearing of pending liabilities.

A bench of Chief Justice H.L.Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy issued notice on a petition by the social activists Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Lalit Mathur seeking, besides timely payment of wages and clearing of pending liabilities, the setting up of independent Social Audit Units.

The court issued notice as counsel Prashant Bhushan highlighted delay in the payment of wages with an outstanding liability of Rs.3,500 crores.

Seeking higher wages under NREGA than the prevailing minimum wages in the states, Aruna Roy and others have sought direction to the central government to restore the demand-based fund-release system as envisaged in the 2008 Operational Guidelines of MGNREGA.

The PIL petitioners have also sought direction to the central government to comply with the statutory mandate of releasing funds to match the state governments’ expenditure at all times, including the expenditure for payment of compensation in lieu of delay in payment of wages to workers and the liquidation of existing liabilities.

Referring to the Section 14 (6) of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, the petitioners said that for the current year, the projected demand is 333.07 crore person days and this would involve an allocation of Rs.45,930 crore but there is a gap of Rs.10,000 crore in view of the shortfall in the actual allocations.

Section 14 (6) says that the district programme coordinator shall prepare in December every year a labour budget for the next financial year containing the details of anticipated demand for unskilled manual work in the district and the plan for engagement of labourers in the works covered under the scheme and submit it to the district panchayat.

Appreciating the social audit units set up in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana, the PIL said that despite the issue of Social Audit Rules in 2011 with the concurrence of the CAG, most of the states have failed have failed to set up such bodies as they fear the it would expose the alleged corruption in execution of the scheme fir the rural poor.

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