Blocking of central funds prompts Bengal govt to appoint ombudsman for MGNREGA

As the Union government decided to freeze the flow of central funds to West Bengal under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) due to lack of proper accounts and utilisation of prior expenses under this scheme, the state’s Panchayat Affairs and Rural Development department has finally issued a notification for the appointment of ombudsman for each district in the state.

A senior official from the department said that barring for the three districts of Hooghly, Cooch Behar and East Burdwan, the state government has already decided as to who all will be appointed as ombudsman for the remaining districts.

“These names have already been forwarded to the district magistrates concerned. They have been instructed to appoint them as early as possible. The appointment of ombudsman for Hooghly, Cooch Behar and East Burdwan districts will also be finalised soon. The names of these persons will be uploaded on the website of the Panchayat Affairs and Rural Development department in due course,” the official said.

It is learnt that besides each district, a separate ombudsman will also be appointed for the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).

“Mainly retired bureaucrats have been appointed in these posts,” the official said.

The ombudsmen will have the authority to investigate any complaint on irregularities in expenditure under the MGNREGA scheme. They will also ensure that the central funds received under MGNREGA are not diverted for meeting other expenses.

“These appointments will bring about transparency in the entire expenditure process and the problems relating to non-availability of proper accounts and utilisation certificates will also be removed,” the official said.

The Union government has stopped payments under the MGNREGA scheme to West Bengal since December last year. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during his recent visit to Delhi had appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to release funds under MGNREGA.

On the other hand, the leader of opposition in West Bengal Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, had been insisting on freezing of central funds under the scheme.




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