The Ministry of Rural Development has proposed to link the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) with agriculture, so that works taken up under the scheme help “enhance productivity in agriculture by creating infrastructure”.
The proposed changes are supposed to be in “accordance with the priorities of the new government”, and aimed at creating more durable and useful infrastructure, besides checking leakages in implementation and ensuring timely payment of wages.
MGNREGS, introduced in 2006 as the previous UPA government’s flagship scheme, promises 100 days of employment every year to each rural household. The scheme, however, has come under increasing criticism for a number of problems, including the poor quality of assets it created, delays in the payment of wages, and gaps in implementation.
In a note circulated to states on suggested changes in MGNREGS and its modalities, the rural development ministry has proposed that the District Programme Coordinator ensure that “at least 60% of the works to be taken up in a district in terms of cost shall be for creation of productive assets linked to agriculture and allied activities through development of land, water and trees”.
This, the note says, is expected to bring at least Rs 25,000 crore of investment into agriculture.
The draft changes, coming within a month of the BJP-led government taking charge, indicate the new government’s keenness to continue with the scheme, but remodel it as per its priorities.
The ministry has also emphasized on strengthening social audits “by establishing suitable mechanism that would identify, train and equip rural youth in overseeing implementation…”
States are expected to revert with their suggestions to the ministry before June 23.