Will rural flagship schemes change under Modi?

Officials admit that MGNREGS and rural road development programmes suffered shortcomings in UPA regime

 
By Jitendra
Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

MGNREGS has not resulted in creation of durable assets, admit officials in rural development ministry (photo by Meeta Ahlawat)

Senior officials of ministry of rural development have gone into a huddle following questions regarding the performance of various ministries thrown by Narendra Modi, who will take oath as prime minister on May 26.

The cabinet secretary has asked secretaries of different ministries to prepare a power point presentation on why benefits from a number of schemes are not reaching people, said a senior official of ministry of rural development.

The question they have been asked to answer is: “what should be done which hasn’t been done vice-versa”, said a senior official.

Senior officials in different wings of the ministry of rural development held meetings with their subordinates on Monday to prepare their respective presentations.

Everyone is speculating about the flagship programme of the earlier Congress-led UPA government, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). It had helped UPA win a second term in 2009. “Everyone is curious to know what kind of changes this scheme would undergo, though the scheme was given effect through a legislation which leaves very little scope for change,” said another senior official.

He offered some more insight into the gaps in MGNREGS. “The scheme does not deal with capacity building provisions. Besides, there isn’t sufficient awareness about the rights-based scheme,” the official said. What’s more, the welfare scheme was implemented as a stand-alone scheme whereas there should be convergence with other ministries like forest and water resources, he added.

Read more on faulty implementation of MGNREGS


How MGNREGA blew Rs 10,853  crore

The ministry’s presentation is also likely to point to lengthy procedures which hamper implementation of the scheme. These include preparation of muster roll and putting it in online data base. Lack of awareness about the rights-based scheme also compounded officials' task from selection of work to labour involvement to their payment procedure. What's more there is standardisation of creation of assets under MGNREGS.

Pradhan Mantri Gramin Dadak Yojana (PMGSY) is another flagship scheme of the ministry for rural road construction.
 
We have proposed for road maintenance provisions in the scheme through community participation, further strengthening of PMGSY-II, convergence of this scheme with MGNREGS, gender participation as well as plantation on the flank of rural roads and focus on district roads, said the official.

The most important thing which should have not have been done was cutting of budget, the official said. “It affects the scheme a lot on ground,” said a senior official. There was a drastic cut in budgetary allocation for many social welfare schemes last financial year when estimates were revised midway.
 

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