Sewa Kendras to come up with rural job scheme funds

K. Balchand

NEW DELHI: The Centre has decided to go ahead with the controversial proposal of constructing Rajiv Gandhi Sewa Kendras at the panchayat level at a cost of Rs.10 lakh each from funds meant for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (Mgnregs).

Notwithstanding the opposition against the use of funds meant to provide 100 days of manual employment to the unemployed in rural areas, the Ministry of Rural Development has decided to provide each of the close to 2.75 lakh panchayats in the country with what it calls the Bharat Nirman Rajiv Gandhi Sewa Kendra.

While the construction of about 2.75 lakh kendras will cost at least Rs.27,500 crore, the Ministry’s decision to construct bigger structures at the block level costing Rs.25 lakh each will entail an additional expenditure of about Rs.1,000 crore.

The Ministry has made it clear that the construction of these buildings be taken up on a priority basis and that the labour budget be estimated in the next financial budget 2010-11, indicating a hike in the budget allocation for the scheme even though it is a demand-driven project.

The Centre has provided close to Rs.40,000 crore for the Mgnregs during the current financial year.

The Ministry regards the construction of these kendras as an extension of works under the Mgnregs conforming to norms that the proportion of labour cost to material cost be in the ratio of 60:40 of the project cost.

The Ministry allows for the use of funds from the Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) in districts where it is applicable to meet the material component, while in the non-BRGF districts, the material component could be supplemented by other schemes.

The Ministry hopes that the space will be utilised for training and resource support to Mgnregs workers, panchayati raj institutions and beneficiaries of other programmes.

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