The collaboration would be undertaken as pilot projects in Kerala and Assam

Keeping in mind the scope for convergence, the Rubber Board has formulated a proposal for extending plantation development activities through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). This collaboration will be undertaken as pilot projects in Kerala and Assam in accordance with convergence guidelines.

The area to be brought under rubber cultivation through these guidelines will be restricted to 500 hectares in each of the States this financial year. Based on the feedback, the scheme will be scaled up on from next year onwards.

The proposal is an ambitious project that is likely to accelerate rural development by providing huge employment opportunities to the rural poor. “I would request you to consider supporting this proposal, which incorporates a strategy for providing gainful livelihood and job opportunities to a large number of rural poor of the country through Rubber Plantation Development Program,” stated a letter from J.S. Deepak, Additional Secretary (Plantations) addressed to the Ministry of Rural Development.

Responding to the request from the Rubber Board on June 15, the Ministry of Rural Development swiftly issued guidelines for the use of MGNREGS for rubber plantation, Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh told The Hindu in response to this letter.

The proposal envisages that only job card holders will be employed for the unskilled work. Wage payments will be done through banks and post office accounts. According to the letter, the record of employment generated under this convergence will be maintained separately. The individual household beneficiary in the cluster shall be a cluster eligible under MGNREGS for work on private land/homestead.

Additionally, the board will identify suitable land and the cluster of beneficiaries, who are eligible under MGNREGS to work on their private land.