Telangana and Kerala have decided to take up a united fight against the Centre’s “negative” attitude and on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) at national level, its discrimination of some States and its “conspiracy” to discontinue the scheme.
Speaking at a seminar on “MGNREGS: Implementation and Challenges” organised by Telangana Vyavasaya Karmika Sangham here on Tuesday Kerala and Telangana Ministers for Panchayat Raj and Rural Development M.B. Rajesh and E. Dayakar Rao, respectively, alleged that the Centre was harassing States with impractical decisions on the implementation of the scheme. They also decried budgetary cut of ₹75,000 crore to the scheme for the last two years.
The Ministers stated that there was no encouragement to works of asset creation with MGNREGS, there were restrictions on procurement of tool required for labourers to carry out employment generation works and no decision on the requests to link the scheme with agriculture. They also ridiculed the Centre’s decision to restrict the number of works to 20 per village with priority to works without any utility.
Mr. Dayakar Rao said the Centre’s restrictions on MGNREGS works had already resulted in ₹800 crore loss to the State exchequer to Telangana, which had been at the top in implementation of the scheme. He alleged that the Centre had stopped the scheme funding to West Bengal for the last six months and sent supervisory teams to non-BJP ruled States such as Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Telangana and others to make baseless allegations.
The Centre had sent 18 teams to Telangana this year already to raise meaningless objections and to deny wage employment work to the needy. During 2014-18, only three teams were sent to inspect the works taken up. He alleged that the Centre was faulting tank de-silting works although it was one of the major works taken up under the shceme since its launch.
Against 11% such works in Telangana, their percentage was 20 in Punjab, 19 in Andhra Pradesh, 18 in Chhattisgarh and 16 in Gujarat. The Centre was also against plantation work under the scheme overlooking the fact that how the drive had improved green cover in Telangana since 2014.
Mr. Dayakar Rao also criticised the Centre’s attitude of opposing the crop drying platforms construction under the scheme in Telangana while allowing drying yards for fish and shrimp in the coastal areas. He stated that Telangana had taken up asset creation works compared to temporary works being taken up in the past.
National general secretary of Vyavasaya Karmika Sangham B. Venkat, several CPI (M) leaders, MGNREGS wage employment seekers, field assistants and others participated in the meet.