Admitting that all is not well with a scheme under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), rural development minister Jairam Ramesh has come out with a gamut of reforms in the right to work programme.
On Thursday, the ministry made public the Reforms in MGNREGA Implementation — a set of nine major challenges facing NREGA — along with possible solutions.
Ramesh said, "NREGA has not evolved into a demand-driven and rights-based programme." The move comes after HT carried a story showing a decline in the demand for work and also mandays of work generated.
"There is evidence to suggest that implementation has been very uneven … equally clear evidence that original objectives are yet to be achieved," Ramesh said.
The paper, identifying structural issues such as payment delay, quality of assets lists the challenges — ensuring demand-driven legal entitlements, reduction of delay in providing work, payments and thus distress migration, participatory grass roots planning, regular flow of funds and also strengthening grievance redressal mechanisms.
"We have uploaded proposed solutions on website. After a public debate for three weeks, we would bring the structural reforms," he told HT adding that the changes would not require an amendment to the Act.
The ministry’s move would also help the UPA –which launched the NREGA in 2006 — to realise full benefits of the scheme that many ministers acknowledge has helped it stay in power. To begin with, the reforms could be implemented in 2000 poorest blocks especially those with high concentration of SC/STs.