Despite generating 269 lakh person days and starting on a good note despite Covid-19, Punjab has only managed to complete 15 per cent of work targeted under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) scheme. There are still 3 months of the financial year left to achieve the remaining target of 85 per cent. The state, meanwhile, has utilised 60 per cent of the total grant earmarked for this financial year majority for the wages.
Last year in the post lockdown period in June month, the state had witnessed a 40 per cent rise in person days.
The state has taken up 1.31 lakh works under the scheme in the past 9 months till December 31, 2020 including some spill over works of the last financial year out of which only 19,612 works (around 15 per cent of the total taken up works) could be completed till date. The state has spent around Rs 915 crore out of total grant of Rs 1,500 crore earmarked for the state this year which is almost double the grant against last year.
Till date the state has generated 269.47 lakh person days in the nine months which are higher against previous years even when 235.26 lakh, 204.96 lakh, 223.13 lakh and 157.13 lakh persons days were created in 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016, respectively.
Also with the passing months, the labour days of women person days out of the total also got reduced to 57. 03 per cent against 58.21 per cent in the month of October.
There are only 195 Gram Panchayats (GPs) out of 13,326 GPs in the state where not a single penny was spent.
The government has fixed targets for every district and these districts have to meet those in this financial year only to utilise the entire funds.
Under NREGA, 60:40 ratio should be maintained for money to be spent on wages and material, respectively. But in the state till date 76 per cent amount has been spent on the wages and 22.22 per cent on the material. In some districts the expenditure on material is only around 10 per cent and 90 per cent is spent on the wages only out of the grant spent till date.
In Majha region — Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Tarn Taran –only 3,400 works could be completed out of 27,000 which comes to 12.5 per cent of the total works. In Doaba region –Jalandhar Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr — 4,017 works could be completed out of total 32,000 works which also comes to 12.5 per cent, while in Malwa region, where 14 districts fall, around 17 per cent works (12,195 projects) have been completed out of 72,000 total undertaken.
In Amritsar, 1,289 works could be completed out of 7,000, and 45 per cent budget was utilised including 13 per cent on material. In Barnala, 269 works could be completed out of 2,000 with an expenditure of Rs 17 crore (49 per cent of the total budget for the district) including 16.16 per cent was spent on material. In Bathinda, 1,011 works of 5,000 could be completed with a cost of Rs 35 crore and only around 11 per cent was spent on material. Faridkot completed 630 works out of 3,000 with a cost of Rs 35 crore by spending 34 per cent on material.
Fatehgarh Sahib district has completed 1,028/5,000 with Rs 59 crore and 10 per cent on material. In Ferozepur, 1,248 of 10,000 works completed at the cost of Rs 57.76 crore and around 35 per being spent on material.
In Fazilka, 605 of 5000 works could be completed with a cost of Rs 47.75 crores and 26.21 per cent of the money being spent on material. Gurdaspur saw 932 out 11,000 works being completed with a cost of Rs. 69.68 crores with 32.37 per cent expenditure on material procurement. In Hoshiarpur, 1,383 works of 16,000 were completed at a cost of Rs 59.71 crores and 20.15 per cent on material, while in Jalandhar, 485 works of 6,000 were completed at a cost of Rs 29 crores and 13.36 per cent on material. Kapurthala saw 955 of 4,000 works being completed at a cost of Rs 25 crore and around 12 per cent on material. Ludhiana registered completion of 886 of 7,000 projects at cost of Rs 68 crore and 26 per cent spent on material. In Mansa, 1,230 of 4,000 works were completed with Rs 33.89 crore spent and around 28 per cent expenditure on material.
Not a single district in the state has met the 60:40 ratio except some districts which have spent 25% to 36% on the material.
The department of Rural Development and Panchayat Punjab sources said that most of the projects are being done under the Natural Resource Management (NRM) and only 36 per cent of works are taken up under category B, which included creating community or individual assets, while 55 per cent of the total works are being done under Agriculture and Agriculture Allied works.
Majority of the districts of the state are quite behind their respective targets like Mohali that has not even completed even 2 per cent of the total works.
Sources also said that material is always procured on the basis of the credit and its payment is received by the state government from the Center only after completion of the project. The wages, however, are transferred to the accounts of NREGA workers directly.
Minister Rural Development and Panchayat Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa could not be contacted.