The Punjab government wants the upper age limit for work under the Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme to be fixed to 60 years or a maximum of 65 years.
Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Sikander Singh Maluka has taken up the matter with Union Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh.
There is a lower age limit of 18 years to work under the scheme, but no upper age limit.
“I have taken up the matter with the union minister in two meetings. The upper age limit under MGREGA should be fixed to 60 years or a maximum of 65 years. It would lead to improvement in the work place. Also, it is not good to have people, who are 80 or older, working. Social justice demands that such elderly people should not be made to work,” Maluka told The Indian Express on Monday.
“Not only Punjab, some other states also want the upper age limit to be fixed,” Maluka said.
On taking up the issue with elections in Punjab in 2017, Maluka said, “If a legal provision is made, it has to be followed. If the age limit is fixed, it has to be followed.”
“A man above the age of 65 years and a woman above the age of 58 years are eligible for pension. But, there have been instances when people of lesser age approach the government, seeking old age pension on the plea that their hair has turned grey and they are old. But, the benefits of the scheme are given strictly according to the norms. Similarly if upper age limit is fixed for MGNREGA, it would be strictly implemented. I think it is not going to have any political ramification,” said Maluka.
Punjab has emerged as the third most successful state after Tripura and West Bengal in the implementation of MGNREGA.