The developed states in the country have not been able to reap the benefit from the Centres flagship scheme for rural job guarantee,Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Saturday.
Its true that developed states such as Punjab,Haryana,Maharashtra,Tamil Nadu are not benefitting from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) schemes. It is a central scheme and our hands are tied. We cannot change it for some states. However,I am taking this up with the Prime Minister,Manmohan Singh,and we should be able to have separate schemes for developed and developing states in the 12th five year plan, Ramesh said after his two-day tour of Punjab.
30 new works have been added under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act through a recent amendment. I hope developed states like Punjab will benefit out of it, he added.
Denying the state governments charge that unrealistic wages were responsible for the non-utilisation of MNREGA funds,the Union minister said, The contention that wages under the scheme are low is wrong. Under the State Agriculture Wages Act,Punjab pays Rs 154.80 per day,while the Centre,under MNREGA,pays Rs 166 per day.
Stating that the reason for non-utilisation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act funds in Punjab is the nature of work,which is mainly unskilled,he said,This is why states such as Bihar and UP have benefitted out of it. In fact,the cause of worry is states such as Kerala and West Bengal where the state wages are higher than what the Centre gives under the scheme. For developed states we need a different rural development schemes and not higher wages.
On the demand of state Congress member and Leader of Opposition Sunil Jakhar,for a CBI inquiry into alleged bungling of MNREGA funds in Punjab,Ramesh said it was not within the Centres jurisdiction to do so.
I wanted to order a CBI probe into working of MNREGA in Uttar Pradesh. But only a court of law can order a CBI probe. From our side,we have asked the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) to carry out an audit of MNREGA schemes in all the states and the report will be tabled in the Parliament in October.