Tamil Nadu

‘South accounts for nearly 30% of MGNREGS funds’

LONG-TERM BENEFITS: The MGNREGS work, if planned well, has the potential to improve the agricultural productivity of small farmers in Tamil Nadu, says an official.   | Photo Credit: A_MURALITHARAN

Southern States bagged nearly 30% of funds under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) continuously for the last 10 or 11 years, despite possessing lesser share of rural poor in the country, according to S.M. Vijayanand, Kerala Chief Secretary.

In contrast, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Chhattisgarh, which had about 45-50% of the country’s poor, accounted for only 25% of the MGNREGS funds, Mr. Vijayanand said here on Saturday.

The situation in Uttar Pradesh was “most glaring.” Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana had about 10% of the poor in the country.

Mr. Vijayanand, who had served the Department of Local Self Government in Kerala for 11 years and held various positions, including the post of Secretary at the Union Ministry of Panchayat Raj for four years, was here to address a workshop on the MGNREGS, organised by the Institute of Rural Management, Anand and the Gandhigram Rural Institute, Dindigul.

The “distortion” was not created by anyone. It was due to “better absorbing capacity” of the south. One of the challenges would be to improve the capacity of the northern States, Mr Vijayanand said.

‘No clash with farming’

Dismissing as “myth” the talk of clash between MGNREGS and agriculture, the official said if planned well, the scheme could enhance agricultural operations. The number of days of work under the MGNREGS was in the range of 40 to 50. The total number of days of work under agriculture did not exceed 100.

So, beneficiaries of the scheme could collectively negotiate with agriculturists and plan their activity.

Mr. Vijayanand said since 2009, the purview of work under the MGNREGS had been expanded. It now covered farm ponds, bunds, field channels, fish tanks and the entire watershed management. By taking up this work, agricultural productivity of small farmers would get a “substantial boost.” There could be an agricultural plan within the MGNRGES. Panchayats, rather than government departments, would be in a better position to ensure coordination at the level of villages, he added.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 3:03:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/%E2%80%98South-accounts-for-nearly-30-of-MGNREGS-funds%E2%80%99/article17113831.ece

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