MGNREGA row: Gadkari turns down Vasundhara suggestions

Rajasthan CM had sought delivering the Act as a scheme.

Written by Ruhi Tewari | New Delhi | Published: July 12, 2014 1:28 am
Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje arrives at the Assembly in Jaipur on Friday. Source: PTI Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje arrives at the Assembly in Jaipur on Friday. Source: PTI

Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari, in a reply to Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, rejected most of her suggestions on UPA’s flagship Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

As reported by The Indian Express earlier this month, Raje had written to Gadkari early June asking why the Act couldn’t be delivered as a scheme, adding that it was “difficult” to see the advantages of an Act. She had also suggested expenditure on skill development be included in MGNREGA and the ratio of labour and material as 60:40 be reckoned at the district level. Raje’s letter received criticism from activists as well as other political parties.

In his reply dated June 26, Gadkari defended MGNREGA as being an Act instead of a scheme. “I would like to clarify that the Act functions to fulfil the dual objectives of creating employment for the unskilled workers, thereby addressing the issue of under-employment in the lean agricultural season; and that of creating productive assets, particularly related to land/water/trees. These objectives are to be achieved by following processes, designed to being transparency in the programme implementation,” the letter states.

He also ruled out the need to use MGNREGA funds for skill upgradation. “Regarding using MGNREGA funds for skill up-gradation, I agree that we should move towards skilling the unskilled workers, as per their choice. For this, we have created a whole new division with a separate funding mechanism. We may not need to use the funds under MGNREGA, which are meant primarily for undertaking public works,” Gadkari has said.

Responding to Raje’s suggestion on the labour material ratio, Gadkari said the ministry is in the “process of considering whether this ratio can be reckoned at the district level for all works which are not executed by the Gram Panchayats”.

Recently, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had also sought relaxation in MGNREGA expenditure criterion, asking for the existing wage-material ratio to be relaxed from 60:40 to 50:50.

Raje had also pitched for a stronger State Employment Guarantee Council (SEGC), claiming it be given “complete flexibility to include any kind of work as per local needs”. To this, Gadkari has said the powers of the SEGC are defined in the Act in detail.

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  1. V
    Jul 12, 2014 at 3:23 am
    I have deepest apprehensions about the scheme MNREGA. When the scheme was mooted, there was no widespread unemployment reported among the people who were going to benefit from the scheme. It was stated that the scheme will discourage interstate migration. Is migration bad ? Rather exchange of manpower among states is in the key factor for growth. Secondly MNREGA is making rural youth lethargic and useless. Now they do not want to go out in search of work. The farm sector and small industries in urban areas are getting strangulated for want of manpower. Courier companies are shutting shops because they not have delivery boys.Those who get benefit from scheme may be adequately compensated only, instead court has asked to pay them minimum wages. So who will go out to work hard to earn - every one wants easy money.