New Delhi: Researchers claimed on Friday that the compensation under MGNREGA was delayed either by the Centre or the state governments in almost half of the 92 lakh cases it studied. The outcomes of an ongoing study were shared at a press conference called here by the Swaraj Abhiyan, an NGO run by Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan.

The study was conducted by Rajendran Narayanan, a faculty member at a Bangaluru-based private university, and two independent researchers. “We sampled over 92 lakh transactions spanning 3,446 panchayats spread over 10 states. The data was taken from the MIS transactions of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, which is in the public domain," he said.

Narayanan claimed that in many cases, “even the delays were not factored in, let alone the compensation". “While in 20% of the cases, the compensation was paid within the stipulated 15 days, in about 47% of the cases, it was delayed either by the Centre or the state. In the remaining 33% cases, there was no calculation at all," he claimed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had once dubbed MGNREGA as a “living monument of the Congress’ failure", said Bhushan, adding, “But now, his (Modi’s) own government has turned insensitive towards the needs of the farmers and poor. That is why farmers’ protests are erupting spontaneously at various places."

Anuradha Talwar of the Sangharsh Morcha and a few other activists also spoke on the occasion. Swaraj Abhiyan has filed a plea in the Supreme Court, seeking various reliefs for the farmers of the drought-hit states. The apex court, on 21 July, had said the secretary (of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution) should ensure that the social audit machinery postulated under the act, which was already in place as far as the MGNREGA was concerned, was established at the earliest with appropriate modifications, to enable the states and union territories to carry out a periodic social audit.

Incidentally, on the completion of 10 years of MGNREGA last year, the Narendra Modi government, which had earlier appeared to be critical of the UPA’s flagship rural job scheme, hailed it saying the achievements of a decade were a “cause for national pride and celebrations".

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