Rationalise productivity norms to make NREGA effective: Brinda

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New Delhi, Apr 21 (UNI) The CPI(M) today highlighted the weaknesses in the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and urged the government to rationalise the productivity norms so that women could benefit from the scheme.

Initiating the discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the working of the Ministry of Rural Development, CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat said the present productivity norms involving earth cutting were very high which puts women at a disadvantage and demanded that a time motion study be conducted to rationalise it.

Moreover, the timing of work has also been increased to eight hours excluding the rest period which was in contravention of International Labour Organisation's norms of eight hours which include lunch period. She said that an influentional lobby was pressurising for an increase in work hours to dilute the enhancement of minimum wages.

Regarding the Swarn Jayanti Swarozgar Yojna, she said the Self Help Groups of SC/STs were not functioning properly as poor women from these families had no funds to do the minimum saving of Rs 30 per month. She urged the minister to remove the requirement of saving by the BPL women. Moreover, the banking network in rural areas should be increased to help SHGs.

She requested the Rural Development Minister to urge his party leader and Railway Minister to allot outlets to SHGs to market their products in railway stations.

Lauding the implementation of the Indira Awas Yojna, she said that many a times, the houses under the scheme were constructed outside the village due to lack of land and it resulted in these houses remaining unused. She said the government should monitor the implementation of the scheme properly by providing money for purchasing land and providing water facilities. She also demanded that the funds under IAY be increased due to an increase in the prices of raw material.

Emphasising the need for increased cooperation with state governments on implementating Bharat Nirman, Ms Karat wondered why the allocation under ICDS was reduced from Rs 9000 crore to Rs 5000 crore.

Moreover, she wondered to whom the 8.58 million hectares of reclaimed land was given by the government and said that instead of corporate houses the reclaimed land should have been given to poor people.

Cautioning against Jatropha cultivation without finalising the Minimum Support Price, she said that data base should be collected while implementing the Rs 1500 crore biodiesel project so as to prevent farmers from facing distress in the long run.

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