Govt’s decision to freeze accounts of MGNREGA beneficiaries questioned

Govt’s decision to freeze accounts of MGNREGA beneficiaries questioned

Rs 242, 75, 77, 000 crore already sanctioned to Nagaland for 2019-20, yet to reach beneficiaries: NPRAAF

DIMAPUR, APRIL 24 (MExN): The Nagaland Public Rights Awareness and Action Forum (NPRAAF) has expressed surprise over a directive purportedly issued by the Nagaland State Government through the Rural Development Department directing District Programme Coordinators/ Programme Officers to freeze all Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) job card holder bank accounts by April 30, 2019.


The Forum said this directive is issued when the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India (GoI) has released Rupees two hundred forty two crores seventy-five lakh seventy seven thousand (Rs 242, 75, 77, 000) as first installment on April 8, 2019 to the state government as Central assistance towards “wages, material and admin for implementation of the MGNREGA for the financial year 2019-20,” as per the sanction letter of the GoI.


It alleged that the whole amount is still lying with the Finance Department, Government of Nagaland.


The directive reportedly issued by the Commissioner (MGNREGA), Rural Development Department (NO. RD/MGNREGA/LB-1/2019, dated April 18, 2019), a copy of which made available to the media houses, instructed the District Programme Coordinators (DPCs) of all the eleven districts to direct the Programme Officers to freeze the bank accounts of MGNREGA workers immediately as “per direction of the Ministry for implementation of Direct Bank Transfer (DBT).”


The directive also cautioned that release of funds would be held up to those districts which fail to comply with the instruction.


The Forum therefore wanted to know what alternative arrangement has been made to transfer the cash to the beneficiaries if the government freezes the bank accounts of the job card holders, which was opened with much difficulty with the purpose of receiving cash, transferred to their personal bank accounts.


The Forum also sought to point out that the term account freeze is an action taken by a bank or brokerage that prevents any transactions from occurring in the account. In other words, any open transaction would be canceled and checks presented on frozen account will not be honored.


It stated that the state government must not freeze the bank account of the job card holders before receiving the daily wage from the GoI, which is the sole income for many household of the rural people for better economic life.


The Forum also urged the state government to immediately disburse the amount to the legitimate job cardholders immediately and implement MGNREGA as per the GoI guidelines. It cautioned that it will not remain a mute spectator but will take appropriate steps, at the greater interest of justice, if the legitimate job card holders are deprived of their due benefits.


The Forum said MGNREGA was initiated by the GoI with the objective of “enhancing livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year, to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.”


The benefits of MGNREGA are to create assets for the poor villagers by better connectivity and developing the basic livelihood resource base of the rural poor. MGNREGA aims to provide schemes which in turn to provide opportunity to work for the adults of a family to do unskilled work at a minimum payout of INR 192.00 per day.


There are about 1, 26,000 (one lakh twenty six thousand) job card holders in Nagaland, the Forum informed.