"In this country, there are people who had never seen a Rs 500 note. The poorest of the poor...we have been able to reach them through MNREGA," he told reporters. He was reacting to a question on his predecessor Nitin Gadkari's plan to restrict the rural job scheme to most backward 200 district of the country.
"Rs 40,000 crore component is for the country and not for any specific region," Singh said. He, however, acknowledged that there were some problems in implementation of the ambitious scheme, launched by the UPA government and the present dispensation will "correct" them.
"So far, the working of MNREGA is concerned, if there are lacunae, we will correct them," Singh said. During his stint as Rural Development minister, Gadkari had indicated that it may restrict the rural job scheme MNREGA only to tribal and backward districts of the country. Gadkari had said that the MNREGA guaranteeing up to 100 days of unskilled work in a year to every rural household was not required in areas having higher growth.
Launched in 2005, MNREGA has been an important source of income for millions of rural households. Following Gadkari's remarks, there were protests by economists, activists and some political parties, saying it would affect the poor of the country.