In consideration of the upcoming General elections, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh on Saturday wrote to Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath regarding the obstacles faced by the Ministry of Rural Development(MoRD) during this season.
Mr. Ramesh asserted that the Model Code of Conduct comes in the way of the implementation of various developmental projects and schemes, thereby hindering sanctions for roads in interior areas of many states.
In reference to the flagship rural roads scheme Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna- II (PMGSY), the letter states that “analysis of past experience shows that the peak season for the construction is from January to May. If we miss the season, there could be delays having a negative cascading effect affecting future programme also.”
The Minister issued various clarifications including all sanctioning and tendering works must be completed before the Model Code of Conduct comes into force. For tenders received after the Model Code of Conduct having come into force, States may be permitted to accept the tender if it is in order, award the contract and start the work without “any inauguration or publicity”. Further, “no tendering/ re-tendering need to permitted during the period when the Model Code of Conduct is in force.”
Mr. Ramesh also sought to issue clarifications relating to the UPA flagship MGNREGS. In 2009, the Election Commission had conveyed their “no objection” to the proposal of the MoRD to provide job cards to those applying as “it is a continuous process in accordance with the statute”.
Additionally, in the case of MGNREGS also, the peak work season would coincide with the likely period of Model Code of Conduct. The Minister sighted actual figures of ‘person days’ created in 2013 under the scheme including nearly19 and 26 crores in April and May respectively.
The clarifications issued with regard to MGNREGS reiterated by Mr. Ramesh include, “all Panchayat works approved for inclusion in the Labour Budget by the Gram Panchayats, Intermediate Panchayats and District Panchayats before the Model Code of Conduct comes into force, should be deemed to be approved works. The works from this approved list may be allowed to be started in accordance with demand”.
“No new work need be included. Formalities like issuing of administrative sanctions and technical sanctions for works in the Labour Budget approved by Government of India could go on without any publicity,” the letter stated.