Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 6: Union Minister for Rural Development Chaudhary Birender Singh today dismissed reports that the number of blocks covered under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme would be reduced by the Centre.
"We have selected about 2500 blocks which are under the not-that-developed category. These blocks will be given more attention. That does not mean that the scheme will be stopped in the rest of 4000 blocks," Singh told reporters on the sidelines of the regional conference of state development ministers here.
Employment generation and creation of quality physical assets should go hand-in-hand to make MNREGS more productive, the minister said.
"We have asked the states for convergence of MNREGS with various other schemes to promote asset creation. We hope more states will be coming forward in creating quality assets in the future," he said. "Convergence is the best way to get the best results. Various schemes under irrigation, panchayati raj, forest, rural development, agriculture and so on can be converged," he said.
Underscoring the need for social auditing, the minister said some states were far ahead in terms of social auditing and states like Kerala should work hard to catch up with them. Fund planning is more important than modification of the scheme or floating new guidelines, he said.
Asked about wage-material ratio under the MNREGS, he said the Centre would ensure maintaining of wage to material ratio of 60:40 at the gram panchayat level. Annual allocation under MGNREGS was Rs 34,000 crore in the current year and there would be increase in the coming years, he said.
On demands of states like Kerala to include fields such as agriculture and traditional industry under the scheme, the minister said a decision in this regard would be taken reviewing the opinion of all states after a similar regional conference of state ministers in Patna later this month.