The Union government should amend the restrictions on Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) works that can be taken up in panchayats, Minister for Local Self Governments M.V. Govindan has said.
The Union government order limiting the number of works that can be taken up simultaneously under the MGNREGS in a panchayat to 20 is a huge setback to the State, the Minister said on Tuesday. The decision would have an impact on the labour sector and local economic development. It was against the programme’s essence of providing 100 workdays a year to families and the Union government should be ready to revoke it, he said.
The State government, he said, had written to the Union Ministry of Rural Development on the issue.
The Minister pointed out that conditions in Kerala differed from that in other States. The population of one panchayat in other States could be found in one panchayat ward here. Each panchayat in the State had 13 to 23 such wards. The demand of workers was met by simultaneously taking up multiple works in a ward.
Even if one work was taken up in a ward, activities would get done only in 20 wards. In others, no work could be taken up. This would create a huge work crisis in the State.
Though the arrears of material component had been received, the crisis on the issue persisted. All skilled and unskilled workers and vendors had not been paid. This was owing to the delay in getting the Union government’s Public Financial Management System ID. Since the money could not be distributed fully, the works could not be shown as completed on the website, and these came under the list of continuing works. In effect, many panchayats would be unable to take up any new work, he said.
Though Kerala had asked for 10.5 crore workdays this year, it had been sanctioned only six crore. In the first four months of this financial year, 2,43,53,000 days of work had been completed. This came to 40.59% of the sanctioned limit. The State had got 10 crore days of work the past two years, Mr. Govindan said. Restrictions that ignored Kerala’s situation would seriously hamper the project implementation in the State, he said.