District Collector V. Seshadri on Tuesday said the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) was a ‘brahmastra’ for the empowerment of rural poor.

Speaking at a meeting conducted on MGNREGS by the Centre for Policy Studies (Gayatri Vidya Parishad) here, he said it had helped significantly in reducing migration of labour.

“It has emerged as most powerful weapon by guaranteeing employment for 100 days a year,” he stated.

Mr. Seshadri said the programme had helped in overcoming adverse balance of poverty crisis, making it a legal entitlement for the poor. Earlier system of providing one-time cattle or a grocery shop had not helped much. But the present system – the best anti-poverty scheme world-over -- had gone a long way in improving the financial and health status of the poor.

The Collector referred to increase in labour cost due to MGNRES thereby leading to increase in the cost of food grains and inflationary trends and mooted exploring the option of integrating the programme with agriculture or declaring a moratorium on the scheme during agriculture operations.

Hailing perceptible change in rural life, he admitted some corrupt practices in its implementation and called for corrective steps to tide over the shortcomings.

He said in Visakhapatnam district alone wage employment worth Rs.850 crore – Rs.250 crore this year of which Rs.150 crore spent in tribal areas – had been generated.

He said coffee plantation taken up in 38,000 acres in the agency areas had helped 30,000 families in the district.

Former Mayor D.V. Subba Rao presided. Centre for Policy Studies director A. Prasanna Kumar welcomed and former naval officer Gomes proposed a vote of thanks.

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