Millennium Post

Rural development minister mulls creating human assets via MNREGA

Rural development minister mulls creating human assets via MNREGA
While announcing a slew of new initiatives on the occasion of 10th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), Singh also hinted at adopt ing some major ‘poor-friendly’ changes in the existing Act, which would be announced during the meeting of rural development ministers of Northeastern and eastern states. The meeting, which is scheduled for February 13, has been organised in Patna.

While stressing on convergence programmes in MNREGA, Singh said, “The ministry is mulling creating human assets through populist rural job scheme. The rural youths would be provided with skill training and the trained youth force would be engaged in other sectors, which would help them in finding better employment opportunities.’ While denying the charges of dilution, the union minister said, “The rural job scheme is a very popular programme of central government and it continue to serve the poor people of the country.”

The states, who participated at the meet, narrated how the rural job scheme proved to be a boon in changing the life of people in villages, including insurgency-hit areas of northeast and Naxal-hit districts. Both, the BJP-ruled as well as Congress-ruled states conveyed their difficulties in convergence of MNREGA with other schemes to create durable and useful assets. They also raised the issue of wage material and administration fund. States were in the view that wage material ratio should be restored to 51:49, while administration fund should be increased from present six per cent to eight per cent.

Rural Development Minister of Manipur Francis Ngajokpa attempted to bring into notice of Singh and MoRD officials problems of north-eastern states by asking the ministry to pay special attention to bordering states. The Ngajokpa said, “You are rich in industries... we are rich in insurgencies. You are already developed, we are not yet developed. You have airways and roadways...we have noways.”  Rural development ministers from states including Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura and Uttarakhand also narrated how the rural job scheme brought changes in the lives of poor living in villages in their states.

Meanwhile, according to a MNREGA document- ‘Report to the People and Report on Capacity Building’- released by the Centre, 3.60 crore households were provided employment and 121.25 crore person days of employment were generated in the current financial year, 2014-15 (up to December 31, 2014).
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