Rural ministry refuses to suspend rural jobs scheme

August 14th, 2011 - 3:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 14 (IANS) The rural development ministry has turned down an appeal from the agriculture ministry to suspend the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) during the peak farming season.

“It is not feasible to suspended the MGNREGS during the peak farming season. We have told this clearly to the agriculture ministry,” Rural Development Secretary B.K. Sinha told IANS.

“The MGNREG Act, under which the rural job plan operates, does not provide for suspension of the scheme. In fact, the law guarantees right to work throughout the year based on local demand.”

The agriculture ministry had last month written to the rural development ministry asking it to consider suspending the MGNREGS during peak farming season (Kharif sowing), between the months of June and September.

The agriculture ministry had expressed its concern that farming activity during the peak season was getting affected due to shortage of labourers, many of whom sought employment under MGNREGS. Farm ministry officials said their apprehensions were based on inputs received from the field.

But sources in the rural development ministry said this was not the case across the country. In some agrarian states like Punjab, farm wages are more than the remuneration received under MGNREGS.

“The apprehension of the agriculture ministry is not correct. MGNREGS actually benefits the poor,” said Sinha.

MGNREGS provides a maximum of 100 days of employment in a year to people at a minimum wage of Rs.100 day. The job plan, launched in 2006 to provide a safety net to the rural poor, provided employment to 1.59 crore households in the financial year 2011-12.

Of this, around 48 percent of beneficiaries were women while those from Dalit and tribal categories were 21.37 percent and 19.97 percent respectively.

-Indo-Asian News Service
aa/mr/pg

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