Reforms in MGREGA likely by month-end: Ramesh

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Jairam Ramesh
New Delhi, Feb 2: With complaints galore in the implementation of UPA's flagship rural job scheme, Government is pushing forward reforms in MNREGA, which are likely to be incorporated by the month-end.

As Congress President Sonia Gandhi stressed on the urgency to bring in the reforms, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh today announced that the new measures would be announced within a month.

Stating that the shortcomings and criticism in the programme cannot be ignored, Ramesh assured Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi that reforms and changes will be made in MNREGA.

"We have already discussed the issue with the states and a number of institutions. I hope what we will be able to give it a final shape and be making it public within a month," he said.

The Rural Development Ministry has for quite some time been working on reforms charter prepared by the ministry based on feedback from Sonia Gandhi-led NAC, the Planning Commission and the national consortium on civil society organisations on MNREGA.

The ministry views that these measures could be implemented by "executive actions" and would not require any amendments to the basic structure of the scheme.

The charter of reforms includes steps like expansion of MNREGA to cover irrigation, horticulture and land development facilities.It will have "convergence" of MNREGA with the total sanitation campaign and "notification" of MNREGA audit with the CAG to "institutionalise effective social audit".

One major reform is to make it mandatory for states to institute systems that pro-actively seek and rigorously record the demand for work. Once every three months the gram panchayats would have to organise Rozgar Diwas.

In order to eradicate delay in payments, the charter would ensure each block to have a full-time dedicated programme officer for MNREGA rather than the "additional charge syndrome".

PTI

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