Proposed changes to rural job scheme will hit 5 cr households, say activists

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on October 08, 2014

The Government is planning to roll back the rural job guarantee scheme, which will end up affecting at least five crore rural households, social activists said here on Wednesday.

Addressing a press conference here, activist Aruna Roy said that the Government was determined to ‘dilute’ the Act became evident after some material came to light following an RTI reply by the Rural Development Ministry.

The changes are being done at least in three significant ways – by converting it into a benami (nameless) contractor-driven programme, by changing the labour-material ratio from 60:40 to 51:49, through rationing funds, despite it being a demand-driven law, and by a move to restrict the coverage of the Act to one-third of the blocks in the country, said Roy, who was once a member of the National Advisory Council to the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

“This would effectively bring the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to an end,” said the People’s Movement for Employment Guarantee (PMEG), which has written a letter to the Prime Minister, signed by about 200 activists.

According to the RTI reply, Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari has ordered an amendment in the schedule of MGNREGA “overriding the concerns of Ministry officials that changing the material-labour ratio from 60:40 to 51:49 will result in a sharp fall of 40 per cent in employment generated and “5 crore households will be adversely affected by this decision”.

Economist Prabhat Patnaik said, “this is one of the country’s most important programmes that has not only enabled the rural workers to overcome conditions of acute distress but has also helped protect rural India from the disastrous effects of the last global economic collapse.”

Published on October 08, 2014

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