Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Sunday stressed on the implementation of centrally sponsored projects like Maharashtra Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme but expressed concern over destruction of work culture among labourers.

“The employment guarantee scheme was launched from Maharashtra and later adopted by the Centre, but it was destroying work culture,” Pawar told reporters here.

When the scheme was launched in 1972, about 45 lakh people were taking its benefits, but now a meagre 1.5 lakh benefit from it, he said.

The workers are simply enjoying the benefits and sitting idle, he regretted. Similarly, the food grains at cheaper rates were beneficial for the poor in the long run. The Centre was spending huge amount on giving subsidy to the farmers, he said.

“If 67 per cent of the population is still poor then what have we done to eradicate poverty after so many years?” Pawar asked. On the land acquisition policy, Pawar said the farmers who were parting with the land must get adequate compensation, but a rise in compensation amount by 400 per cent was inviable.

Citing example of Navi Mumbai international airport project, Pawar said the land acquisition proposal was for Rs five crores per acre which rose to Rs 20 crores per acre, which was not financially viable.

On the forthcoming Budget proposals, Pawar said the revenue collection was not complete and hence Finance Minister will have a difficult task.AFP