Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has proposed to live fence graveyards,dargahs and eidgahs under MGNREGA to protect them.
In a letter to National Commission for Minorities chief Wajahat Habibullah,who had requested that boundary walls around these places be built under the employment guarantee scheme,Ramesh suggested that they be provided with live fencing under the Land Development and Plantation works category of MGNREGA for which provisions may be made in the shelf of work maintained by the gram panchayat.
The demand to build the fences,Habibullah told The Sunday Express,had come from Wakf boards of several states,including Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Rameshs suggestion is significant because,if implemented,it will be the first time the Centre has allowed states to use MGNREGA funds to erect protective barriers around religious sites.
Incidentally,fencing of graveyards was one of the promises made by the Samajwadi Party in its campaign for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls earlier this year.
Rameshs suggestion leaves it to Wakf boards to pursue live fencing of graveyards,dargahs and eidgahs with their panchayats.
He has,however,cautioned that MGNREGA funds cannot be used to build brick-and-cement walls as it will violate the criterion that the material must cost less than 40 per cent. Construction of boundary walls as requested by you will be material intensive and would not meet the criteria of 40:60 material:wage ratio prescribed under MNREGA, Ramesh said in his letter to Habibullah.