NEW DELHI: The sub-group of chief ministers in the first meeting at NITI Aayog on Thursday arrived at a consensus to utilise the resources of the rural flagship scheme - Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) - to cut down on the farm input costs to help raise the income of the farmers.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, while taking part in the deliberations through video-conferencing, sought raising the MGNREGS wages at par with the minimum wages prevailing in states.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had constituted the sub-group of chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, and Bihar to suggest ways on convergence of MGNREGS with agriculture during the fourth Governing Council meeting of NITI Aayog.
The Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal chief ministers N Chandra Babu Naidu and Mamata Banerjee respectively sent their written submission having skipped the meeting, while Nitish Kumar linked up through video-conferencing. The UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath suggested that the MGNREGS resources could be utilised for fencing of farm lands to protect crops from animals.
"Issues which found concurrence with the chief ministers included reducing cost of cultivation, enhancing production through efficient use of water or other inputs, providing remunerative price to farmers by incentivising aggregation and market infrastructure, rehabilitation of agricultural land and assets after natural hazards or re-plantation using MGNREGA fund and bringing diversification in agriculture to help occupational diversification and maximising profit," said a senior official of the NITI Aayog.
The think tank panel will hold five regional consultations in Patna, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Guwahati and New Delhi before the sub-group of chief ministers meet again on August 31. The chief ministers were also of same opinion that there should not be any change in the spirit of MGNREGS, that the funds should be used for asset creations. The Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is the convenor of the sub-group, which is likely to finalise the report by September 19.
Areas of consensus on use of MGNREGS among CMs
*Fencing farm land
*Reducing cost of cultivation
*Efficient use of water or other inputs
*Incentivising aggregation and market infrastructure *Rehabilitation of agricultural land and assets after natural hazards
*Bringing diversification in agriculture
Members of Sub Group
AP CM N Chandra Babu Naidu, MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Convenor), UP CM Yogi Adityanath Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee