New Delhi, Sept 28 (UNI) In a significant development, the Government today announced to expand the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme to cover the entire country from April 2008, which would involve a cost of Rs 20,000 crore per year.
Significantly, the decision to expand NREGA to the entire country has been taken two days after a delegation led by newly appointed Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to demand that the flagship programme of the UPA government be expanded to the entire nation.
The Prime Minister held a meeting yesterday with Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Finance Minister P Chidambaram and the member Secretary of the Planning Commission at which the decision to expand the scheme was taken.
Dr Raghuvansh Prasad Singh told reporters here that the remaining 265 districts of the country would be covered under the scheme from the next year. Earlier, 200 most backward districts having majority of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe population were notified under NREGA on February 2, 2006 while 130 most backward districts were notified in the financial year 2007-2008 taking the total number of districts covered till now to 330.
The NREGA was notified on September 7, 2005 providing that it would be implemented in the entire country within the next five years, but with the possibility of election looming large in the country the government has decided to implement the scheme within three years itself.