PATNA: Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh isn’t happy with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. He is annoyed with the tardy pace of implementation of MGNREGA and Indira Awas Yojna in Bihar.
Ramesh, who was on a Bihar tour last week, said that mukhiyas and other panchayat functionaries were more interested in buying SUVs than utilising MGNREGA funds for development work. This information was conveyed to him by none other than Kumar, who adds this trend has decreased now.
In Ramesh’s opinion, Bihar would have to go a long way in achieving MGNREGA targets compared to some other states. The state had demanded Rs 3,000 crore for MGNREGA during the financial year 2011-12. Kumar’s solution is to reduce the number of Centrally-sponsored schemes to give greater freedom to states to plan allocation according to specific needs.
According to Ramesh, Central agencies would not be involved in construction of roads and the state would be fully free to do so on its own. This is meant to stop the blame-game between the Centre and the state over the quality of the work being carried out under the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana.
Meanwhile, the Bihar Government admits it has been spending annually only 60-65 per cent of the fund meant for the National Rural Health Mission. However, this year efforts are being made to spend 80-85 per cent.
A new BPL list would be prepared since Ramesh admits the one prepared earlier had several shortcomings and had caused injustice to many poor people in Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha.