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Restructure MGNREGS, suggests Economic Survey


New Delhi, July 9:

The Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government may restructure the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), which offers minimum-wage employment for the rural jobless.

The Economic Survey 2013-14 which Finance Minister Aurn Jaitley presented in parliament said there was an urgent need to revamp the scheme to “prevent its misuse” and create “meaningful” infrastructure.

The Survey listed six reasons for the reorganisation of the scheme.
Though the scheme is Panchayat-centric and demand-based, on the ground there is lack of principal role in planning, execution and monitoring by the panchayati raj institutions (PRIs), especially the Gram Sabha, said the survey.

Also, the awareness level in the PRIs is very low, resulting in lack of ownership, ill-conceived planning and shelf of projects, and weak or no social audit.

And the need for community projects is becoming less important as probably such works have already been completed or are on the brink of saturation, or on account of lack of common interest in public works. Individual activities on farms are preferred by beneficiaries, it said.

A lack of technical staff has led to delayed measurement of works completed, resulting in delayed payments.

In some places, only female workers are interested in availing of work as market wages for males are much higher, resulting in small works of lesser utility being undertaken instead of big and tangible projects.

There is also a need to avoid projects with single or small number of beneficiaries and the use of MGNREGS funds in supply-driven mode.

“So, there is an urgent need to revamp the MGNREGA to prevent its misuse and make it more development oriented programme creating tangible and meaningful assets and infrastructure, including tourism related infrastructure or some agriculture related activities,” said the Survey.