Imphal, June 16:
Social Activist, 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. The PIL was filed on May 12, 2021 through learned Counsel N. Jotendro.
Seram Neken, who is also a Zilla Parishad Member of Imphal East District, 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, the Commissioner (RD & PR), Government of Manipur and the Director (RD & PR), Government of Manipur to strictly comply with the guidelines of MGNREGS.
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 petition.
As per guidelines of MGNREGS, the amount sanctioned by Government of India shall be released to implementing agencies within 3 days, failing which the Government has to bear an interest of 12% for the delayed period from the date of sanction of money by the Government of India. In case of non-transfer beyond this period, the central government may be constrained to stop further releases, the sanction order mentioned.
However, the said sanctioned amount has not been released in full and in time to the Panchayati Raj Institutions and the MGNREGS workers (Job Card Holders) in the villages of Manipur, the petition alleged.
Meanwhile, 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.
Meanwhile, the State Government released a partial amount of Rs. 180 Crore out of the total sanctioned amount of Rs. 485,50,75,000/- to the districts on April 29, 2021.
The PIL sought the reason from the concerned department of Government of Manipur for non-release of funds in time and as per guidelines. The Manipur High Court admitted the PIL and listed it for hearing on May 18, 2021 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 was returnable by June 7, 2021.
On June 7 last, the High Court of Manipur was dissatisfied with the reasons filed by the Counsel on behalf of the Government of Manipur. However, it granted the time to file its reply returnable by June 15, 2021.
Further, on June 15, 2021, the Manipur High Court allowed the impeachment of the Commissioner (Finance), Government of Manipur and the Branch Manager, SBI, Imphal Secretariat Branch as respondents to the PIL.
Next hearing has been fixed on July 14, 2021.