Centre lifts restriction for Kerala on MGNREGA 

The State has also been asking for more funds under the scheme to provide employment to more people

Published - November 05, 2022 08:18 pm IST - New Delhi

Workers under the MGNREGS engaged in cleaning work in a residential area in Palakkad. File

Workers under the MGNREGS engaged in cleaning work in a residential area in Palakkad. File | Photo Credit: K.K. Mustafah

Capitulating to the persistent demand from the Kerala government, the Union Rural Development Ministry has lifted the restriction on number of simultaneous work in a gram panchayat for the State. In a written letter to the State government on Friday, the Ministry has said that instead of existing cap of 20 simultaneous works per gram panchayat, the State can have up to 50.

The Centre had directed the States, by an order in July this year, that the muster roll for new work may not be issued if 20 number of works are available in a gram panchayat. The only exception, which were not counted in this 20 were works under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Gramin (PMAYG). 

“However, the matter has been again examined after receiving various requests from Kerala. Now, it has been decided with the approval of competent authority that the limit of 20 ongoing works are enhanced to 50 works on account of the large size of gram panchayat,” the letter read. 

The State has been warring with the Centre on the issue since the directions were issued July. M.B. Rajesh, Minister for Local Self-government, wrote a letter to the Union Rural Development Minister on October 31, urging the Ministry to consider the restrictions for “panchayat wards” instead of Panchayats in States like Kerala, where the panchayats are quite big in terms of geographical area and population. “On account of the restrictions imposed by the Ministry, we may not be in a position to provide jobs to many registered job card holders who demand work,” Mr. Rajesh wrote. 

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Rajesh, welcomed the Centre’s move. “But there are several other pressing issues that requires urgent attention from the centre. For example, the Centre owed us ₹19 crore for social audit, but gave only ₹2.69 crore and the State government had to give the social audit department, which is supposed to be independent of the government ₹3 crore,” Mr. Rajesh said.  

The next expected flashpoint between the Left-front ruled State and the Centre is the reduced person days under MGNREGA. “In the last two financial years, we had 10 crore person days, but this year the funds were reduced and we got only 6 crore person days. In the last seven-months, we have exhausted 80% of it already. We will have to ask for more funds soon,” he added. 

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