BENGALURU: The Narendra Modi government, which has recently cut the funds to the state for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), has now limited the scheme to cover just 69 most backward taluks.
According to an official source, the Union Ministry of Rural Development has sent a communication to the state government asking it to focus on the most backward taluks, instead of all the 176 taluks, while preparing the labour budget for 2015-16.
Under MGNREGA guidelines, the district programme coordinator of the scheme prepares the labour budget in December every year, anticipating the demand for employment.
The most backward taluks were identified after considering the percentage of the population coming under below poverty line as per the 2013 Planning Commission estimates.
The Union Government had shortlisted 2,500 most backward taluks in the country after excluding 4,076 taluks following the intensive participatory planning exercise.
For Gujarat, 77 of the 223 taluks have been retained under the scheme, while for Goa it’s one taluk, Andhra Pradesh 539 (655) and Uttar Pradesh 403 (823).
Confirming the restriction in the number of taluks under the scheme, an official in the state Rural Development and Panchayat Raj said, “The state government has appealed to the Union Rural Development Ministry to increase the number of backward taluks to 100.”
Reacting to the revised guidelines, former Yadgir Zilla Panchayat member Naganagouda Patil said, “It is nothing but a body blow to the world’s largest rural job guarantee scheme.”
He added that the Union Government has also stipulated stringent guidelines for Gram Panchayats to utilise the funds, including holding four gram sabhas in a year to monitor the scheme, which is practically impossible.