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Bureaucrat chases Axis Bank to recover NREGA wages

Bureaucrat chases Axis Bank to recover NREGA wages
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A State government official is pursuing a case against Axis Bank for the nonpayment of wages since more than a year under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). After the efforts to recover dues failed, the District Water Management Agency (DWMA), Ranga Reddy district, lodged a criminal complaint against Axis Bank with the Central Crime Station recently.

Chandrakanth, who took charge in July 2013, learnt that the Axis Bank had failed to clear dues to the tune of Rs 3 crore. When the talks with the bank failed, he lodged a complaint with the Panjagutta Police Station on November 5, 2013. Following this, the bank paid Rs 83 lakh (towards wages) to the State government and cleared dues to the tune of Rs 7 lakh. After revising the payments, the DWMA officials put the figure at Rs 1.92 crore. The wages pertain to 25,000 workers spread over several mandals in the district.

A State government official is pursuing a case against Axis Bank for the nonpayment of wages since more than a year under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). After the efforts to recover dues failed, the District Water Management Agency (DWMA), Ranga Reddy district, lodged a criminal complaint against Axis Bank with the Central Crime Station recently.

C Chandrakanth Reddy, project director, DWMA Ranga Reddy district, speaking to The Hans India, said, “The department received complaints from workers that Axis Bank failed to clear wages for the works undertaken during April - June 2013.” Chandrakanth, who took charge in July 2013, learnt that the Axis Bank had failed to clear dues to the tune of Rs 3 crore. When the talks with the bank failed, he lodged a complaint with the Panjagutta Police Station on November 5, 2013.

Following this, the bank paid Rs 83 lakh (towards wages) to the State government and cleared dues to the tune of Rs 7 lakh. After revising the payments, the DWMA officials put the figure at Rs 1.92 crore. The wages pertain to 25,000 workers spread over several mandals in the district.

“We insisted that the bank should produce evidence of payments. After they failed to do so, a legal notice was sent in August; subsequently an FIR was lodged with the CCS on December 9, last year,” the project director said. The State government releases funds under the NREGA directly to nodal banks, either public or private, in the districts. Then the bank releases the funds to its Business Correspondent (BC) in each district. The BC in turn handovers cash to mandal coordinator at mandal level and customer service providers at village level for disbursal of wages.

Axis Bank was chosen a nodal bank for disbursement in five districts of Telangana. In Ranga Reddy, the bank had replaced Fino, a financial inclusion service provider, with Manipal agency after complaints against its poor disbursal surfaced in 2013. “It is the responsibility of the bank to monitor regularly the disbursal of wages as agreed in the MoU with Commissioner of Rural Development.

The issue has arisen because the bank had failed to monitor regularly and take timely action against its business correspondent when the wages were not paid with 15 days. Moreover, it has failed to cover its transactions with fidelity insurance as per MoU,” he added. Strangely, the Axis Bank appointed the then manger of Fino, whose period the issue of nonpayment of wages surfaced, as its senior manager to oversee NREGA payments.

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