The Union government’s approach to widen the scope of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) seems to have met with a number of obstructions. An 11-member expert committee has been set up to clear them.

Thus far, the scheme has been successfully implemented in taking up works on community land ensuring guaranteed wage to demanding manual labour. But taking up schemes relating to land development, irrigation and horticulture plantation on land of designated categories of farmers including small and marginal farmers is appearing to be a different kettle of fish.

The Ministry of Rural Development has since realised that the character of works taken up on such private land was different from that of the works taken up on community land and lacked clarity on issues of deployment of workers, duration of continuous employment, measurement of work and payment of beneficiaries.

The department is not sure about the status of the labour so used on private land and on the length of duration such labour can be allowed to work on private land particularly if they exhaust the guaranteed 100 days of employment and the nature of work that can be allowed to be taken up for execution. While the Centre has listed 13 works for the purpose, no less than 14 States have suggested works to suit local requirements.

Having already come under attack over its decision, the Ministry wants these issues to be examined and has directed the expert committee set up under the Joint Secretary (NREGA) to evolve new norms within six weeks.

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