The State government has decided to approach the Central government to declare “scheme recess” for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) during agricultural season, K.P. Munusamy, Rural Development and Municipal Administration Minister, told the Assembly on Thursday.

This was because of concerns expressed by the agriculture sector over the shortage of labour for its operations as a substantial rural workforce opted for MGNREGS works.

Unveiling a host of measures to be introduced for the effective implementation of the scheme, the Minister said the government proposed to conduct mass awareness campaigns and give wide publicity to enable all beneficiaries to get their full wage of Rs. 119 for eight hours of work. Now, on many occasions, the beneficiaries were given wages in the range of Rs. 80 to Rs. 90 as the pay was disbursed on the basis of output.

Pointing out that the guidelines of the scheme provided for development of lands owned by households belonging to Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes, small and marginal farmers or lands of land reforms' beneficiaries or those of Below Poverty Line families/beneficiaries of Indira Awaas Yojana, he said the land development activities were being practised in some States. The government proposed to explore the possibility of extending such activities to eligible landholders. To curtail the scope for malpractices in the payment disbursal, it had been proposed to make payment to the beneficiaries of the MGNREGS through banks in a phased manner. The present practice of making the payment by cash would be dispensed with.

Satellite-based maps

The government had planned to generate satellite-based maps, which would indicate the current status of water bodies so that water structures were identified and selected as per the right order of priority. This would avoid random selection of ponds, tanks and ‘ooranies' in a piecemeal manner. In view of the size of the scheme, the need for real time monitoring had become imperative. As the works were implemented in all village panchayats simultaneously, the SMS (short message system)-based monitoring would be implemented. At present, only one work site was permitted for each village panchayat at any given time.

Eventually, this led to difficulties in the supervision of works. More than one work site would be permitted, the Minister said.