In order to get improved the implementation of one of the flagship schemes of the UPA-II, the union rural development ministry had shot off a letter to the Punjab chief secretary highlighting various shortcomings in the ongoing Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme in the state.
The union ministry concerned held a performance review meeting (PRC) on September 24 and 25 to take stock of various programmes, including the MGNREGA.
In a communiqué to chief secretary Rakesh Singh, the union secretary for ministry for rural development said average persondays per household during the current financial year is 18 in Punjab, which is lower than the national average (29).
Meanwhile, the performance against approved labour budget is also low as the actual persondays generated so far is 0.27 crore against 0.67 crore labour budget projection. Nine districts have generated persondays less than 30% of the labour budget projection, the letter further mentions.
The state should identify the reasons in such districts and take rectification measures to improve the situation, suggests the union secretary.
In the meantime, percentage of SC/ST population with job cards vis-à-vis their participation in MGNREGA had also been very low.
Out of 12,925 gram panchayats (GP), 9,558 had shown nil expenditure during the current financial year, while in 2012-13, 7,479 GPs had shown nil expenditure.
The Punjab government should list such non-performing GPs, analyse reasons and take appropriate measures to generate the demand wherever possible, the letter instructed. The work completion rate of the state stands at 4.4% as on October 7.
The union secretary, seeking personal attention on the part of Rakesh Singh, guided to instruct state rural development department to undertake similar analyses at the district, block and panchayat levels.
Expressing concern over the situation, Leader of Opposition Sunil Jakhar rued that the SAD-BJP government had often charged the Congress-led UPA government with discriminating against the state in facilitating funds. "But now it has come to light that there is a dire need to improve the implementation of public-oriented schemes," he said.
In 2007, when the SAD-BJP assumed power, there were 97,000 MGNREGA card holders but now the figure has risen to nearly 8 lakh, which means that the scheme is much in demand by poor, said Jakhar.