Anxious to spur up the rural economy in the left wing extremist (LWE) affected districts of the country, the Centre has underlined the imperativeness to implement the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) in a more meaningful manner.

Rural Development Department secretary Rita Sharma took up the matter with the chief secretaries of 15 States to impress upon them the need to ensure that the rural household received their due entitlements in accordance with the Act.

Interestingly , the letter was written ahead of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee meeting which took stock of the progress of NREGS and where Rural Development Minister C.P. Joshi had assured that the scheme was being implemented much better in the naxal affected districts and that the projects were based on reports from the States.

Dr. Sharma, in her letter, has underscored that a large number of rural households had not yet availed of 100 days employment and that only 3.2 percent of the rural households had completed 100 days of employment in the 33 districts affected by LWE and drought during 2008-09.

She called upon Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhatisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Nagaland, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal to utilise the enhanced administrative expenditure to strengthen the implementation machinery.

The department has directed these States to start at least one project work in each village and habitation and to provide cost of work tools to all the workers to avoid exclusion of asset-less workers and to ensure that wages were paid not later than a fortnight of the work done.

Stressing on the new guidelines issued, Dr. Sharma has called upon the States to effectively adhere to the new provisions of convergence and enlargement of scope of NREGS for initiating development projects on the land of individuals belonging to the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and BPL households, besides small and marginal farmers. The secretary has directed the chief secretaries to personally monitor the progress of NREGA and ensure that the benefits were delivered to the targeted populace.