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After protests,Govt changes norms: Dalit land first choice for NREG work,small farmers next

Land belonging to Scheduled Castes and/or Scheduled Tribes will be the first to be earmarked for works under the National Rural Employment...

Written by Priyadarshi Siddhanta | New Delhi |
September 16, 2009 4:34:51 am

Land belonging to Scheduled Castes and/or Scheduled Tribes will be the first to be earmarked for works under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and once this is saturated,only then land belonging to small and marginal farmers will be taken up.

These are the amended guidelines issued by the Rural Development Ministry after protests that expansion of works under NREGA would undermine its benefits to Dalits.

In July,Rural Development Minister C P Joshi had decided to expand the ambit of NREGS by allowing creation of assets that would include “provision of irrigation facility,horticulture plantation and land-development facilities” on land owned by small and marginal farmers.

National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) chairman Buta Singh had objected to Joshi’s move.

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Until now,NREGS workers were not allowed to work on private land except on plots owned by one of the following: SC/ST families,Below Poverty Line (BPL) families,beneficiaries of land reforms,and BPL beneficiaries under the Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY).

“The proposed amendment will dilute the intention of the NREGA programme itself and reduce the flow of benefits to SC/ST communities,” Singh is learnt to have written to Joshi adding,“I would like to request you to look into this issue in detail before making any such amendment as envisaged in the NREGA.”

Said Mihir Shah,who oversees the sector in the Planning Commission: “I am not against the amendment but I believe that a holistic plan should be prepared for all the deprived populace so that all can be benefit simultaneously.”

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