Pitching for immediate reforms in the Centre’s flagship rural job scheme MGNREGA,Congress President Sonia Gandhi today said the complaints of corruption and irregularities regarding the scheme cannot be ignored.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Gandhi also expressed concern over the delay in wage payment to MGNREGA workers,emphasising the need to ensure that they get it within 15 days.
“Talks about reform in MGNREGA have been on for quite a long time. The time has now come that we implement them… We cannot ignore the complaints regarding irregularties and corruption in the scheme,” Gandhi said addressing the MGNREGA Conference 2012 here.
Gandhi said she was happy that the CAG will also look into the expenditure under the scheme. “Corruption in MGNREGA is a great injustice to the country and a crime because it is named after the Father of the Nation,” she said.
“We have achieved successes in MGNREGA in last six years but there are still many challenges before us. The biggest concern is to ensure timely wage payments to workers. For this,the banks and post offices will have to increase their reach. Our effort will be to ensure that the workers get their wages within 15 days,” Singh said.
Gandhi said,”The delay in payment of their wages is illegal and unacceptable to us under any circumstances. We will have to ensure that MGNREGA workers get timely payment.”
Flagging the challenges ahead in the implementation of the scheme,Gandhi also pointed out,”There is unfortunately an apathy towards it in some states especially those which are considered poor.”
In an indication that the UPA’s flagship scheme could undergo crucial changes in the near future,Gandhi wondered whether MGNREGA can also be used for bringing comprehensive reform in public health or managing natural resources in a better way in rural areas.
It is at present is primarily a guarantee against poverty and employment in rural areas.