New Delhi, Oct 3 :Terming the implementation ofUPA's flagship programme MNREGA as “patchy”,Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday expressed concern at leakage of funds meant for the scheme but hoped that the proposed ‘NREGA 2.0' will deal with the problems in the coming times.
“There are serious, serious shortcomings in its implementation...The record of its implementation is very patchy...and therefore, we have a huge challenge,” Ramesh said. He said while he is a strong supporter of MNREGA, “I think we also recognise that there are very serious issues in its implementation which is detracting from its effectiveness which needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.” Referring to some of the shortcomings in its implementation, he said while the wage earner has to get his wage within 15 days of the last day of employment, the period may extend upto nine months onwards.
“Quality of the community assets (which the scheme seeks to create) leaves a lot to be desired. There are of course the usual stories we read about in the Indian press about leakages of funds,” he said at a programme organised by the Public Diplomacy Division of the MEA.
Ramesh said a Chief Minister of a North Indian state had told him that NREGA has been responsible for the “proliferation of Boleros and Pajeros in the state.” “The money that was meant for NREGA has been diverted for purchase of Boleros and Pajeros,” he said. He said the recently unveiled NREGA 2.0 could remove the shortcomings of NREGA 1.0 in the coming days when it is implemented in parts.
But at the same time Ramesh insisted that the programme was not faulty but needed greater planning at the grass-roots level.
“I don't think we should draw the conclusion that this is a faulty programme. It is a programme which demands a very high degree of local level planning...Civil servants and government should be ready to take the flak which could arise out of implementation of schemes,” he said.
The Minister said ‘NREGA 1.0' has captured people's imaginatiopn in different parts of the country and it has increased agricultural wage rates and it has reduced migration.
He said the programme has also created “community assets” in the form of water bodies.
Ramesh claimed that the programme has far more skeptics here than outside. “I Get more yawns within this country than outside,” he said He said the recently unveiled NREGA 2.0 could remove the shortcomings of NREGA 1.0 in the coming days when it is implemented in parts.
He said no legislative amendments required its implementations and a series of executive orders from Centre and states was all it needed.
Activist Nikhil Dey said the programme should be such that it should function without a good ‘sarpanch', DM or a Chief Minister.A documentary ‘Bridging the gap between India and Bharat' was also shown at the programme and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said it was effort on part of the Public Diplomacy division to show both ‘India' and ‘Bharat' together.Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's daughter Upinder was also present at the programme. PTI