The Centre owes Rs 6,366 crore in dues to states and Union Territories under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, or MGNREGS, the rural development ministry told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

Minister of State for the Ministry Of Rural Development Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti gave the information in repsonse to a question by Congress MP Ramya Haridas.

Data shared by the government showed that the Central government owes the highest amount – Rs 2,770 crore – to West Bengal. Jyoti also said that West Bengal was the only state for which dues have been pending for more than five months.

The last installment of wages to workers in West Bengal had been disbursed on December 26, 2021, according to rights group NREGA Sangharsh Morcha. The Union government has since withheld the payment of more than Rs 7,500 crore to West Bengal in MGNREGS funds, including wages, the rights group said.

The Union government has cited alleged corruption at the state government level and invoked Section 27 of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act to block the funds disbursement. The law allows the Union government to stop the funding and investigate alleged improper usage of funds meant for MGNREGS if it receives complaints.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme introduced in 2005 by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance guarantees 100 days of unskilled work annually for every rural household.