Days after he took over as the rural development minister, Jairam Ramesh wants to reform the NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act), which he sees as besieged with corruption, delayed payments and non productive results.
Ramesh said that by the end of August, the ministry will prepare the changes required in the provisions to make the law more effective in providing employment to rural households, while also eradicating corruption.
"We are bringing the reform measures to deal with serious issues like delay in wage payments to NREGA workers. If needed, we will amend the act," Ramesh said.
NREGA, with a budget of Rs 40, 000 crore this fiscal, is the flagship rural development programme of UPA.
Last week, as part of his first on-ground assessment tour, the minister visited Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan to assess programmes like NREGA.
"There are major structural issues in MG-NREGA which need to be addressed immediately," Ramesh added.
Regarding the land acquisition bill, Ramesh said the draft land acquisition bill would be made public in two days for wider 'pre-legislative consultations' after consultation with the states.
The minister said he would write to the chief ministers along with the draft bill asking for their inputs.
The rural development minister said he would even visit some of the states for discussions. "I will go to West Bengal in a few days and some other states if need be," he said.
While land is a state subject, land acquisition is on the concurrent list. The Centre is bringing out an over-arching policy on land acquisition and rehabilitation, which would replace the Land Acquisition Act of 1894.
"The draft bill is prepared in consultation with the planning commission, taking proposals of the NAC," the rural development minister said.