The court directed the additional advocate general S Rupachandra to ascertain as to whether or not the needful has been done in terms of the sanction order.
Imphal East Zilla Parishad member Seram Neken has filed a Public Interest Litigation before the Manipur High Court with regard to the non-release of funds for MGNREGS by the state government to the Panchayati Raj Institutions.
Seram Neken prayed the court to issue rule and call for records and also to issue a writ of the like nature for an appropriate direction to the concerned authorities more particularly to the chief secretary, Government of Manipur and concerned commissioner (RD & PR), Government of Manipur; director (RD & PR), Government of Manipur and all the deputy commissioners or district coordinators of the all the districts, Manipur to strictly comply with the direction given by the deputy secretary, Government of India, Ministry of Rural Development (Department of Rural Development) by a letter/order dated March 18, 2021 while disbursing the required funds to all the districts as per the sanctioned order dated April 29, 2021 so as to enable to save the 12% interest charges on the delay beyond the specified period of 3 (three) days from the date of sanction of money by the Government of India.
Further he prayed the court to direct the respondents more particularly the respondents No. 3 (commissioner (RD & PR), Manipur) to strictly comply with letter/order dated March, 18, 2021 within a time frame, in the interim and also to pass an order, direction which the court may deem fit and proper to secure the ends of justice.
In a release on Wednesday, Seram Neken said that the Government of India, Ministry of Rural Development (Department of Rural Development) sanctioned an amount of Rs. 485,50,75,000 to the Government of Manipur on March 18, 2021 for payment of liabilities in the form of wages, material and administrative components for MGNREGS works.
As per the sanction order and the MGNREGA Guidelines, the state government must transfer these funds along with the state share to the State Employment Guarantee Fund for programme implementation within three days positively from the date of receipt of these funds. In case of non-transfer beyond this period, the central government may be constrained to stop further releases, the sanction order mentioned. Besides, the state government would be liable to pay interest at 12% for the period of delay beyond the specified period, the release said.
“However, the said sanctioned amount has not reached the Panchayati Raj Institutions and the MGNREGS workers in the villages”.
Meanwhile, Neken said that the PRIs of Manipur resorted to agitations demanding the release of funds, even in the form of a two days general strike. Moreover, the various political parties including Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee also demanded the release of funds in view of the alarming situation of COVID-19 second wave and the prevailing Lockdown.
The poor job card holders under MGNREGA in villages are in extreme need for their wages, which have been pending payment for a long time. And material costs for executed works have long been due for payment to the elected representatives of PRIs. Unfortunately, the concerned department of Manipur Government has not done the needful to release the funds and reach the PRIs and the villagers, Neken added.
The release further mentioned that Manipur High Court has admitted the PIL and on May 18, 2021 the PIL was listed and heard before Chief Justice Sanjay Kumar and Justice Kh Nobin Singh. Consequently, the court directed the additional advocate general S Rupachandra to ascertain as to whether the needful has been done in terms of the sanction order, and the reply is returnable by June 7, 2021.
The respondents of the PIL are: (1) the Union of India represented by secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, (2) Government of Manipur represented by chief secretary, (3) commissioner (RD & PR), Manipur (4) director, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Manipur.