The scope of the NREGS, meant to generate wage employment in rural areas for a member of each family for 100 days a year, is being broadened to provide white-collar jobs also.
In accordance with a plan of the ministry of rural development, panchayats with a population of more than 5,000 will have a panchayat development officer (PDO) with a pay of Rs 12,000 per month, and a junior engineer (JE) to be paid Rs 10,000 a month.
On Friday, minister for rural development Jairam Ramesh wrote to states affected by left-wing extremism, asking them to endorse the model as a solution to problems posed by the red brigade.
The cost sharing between the Centre and the states will be in the 90:10 ratio (the Centre will bear the higher part) for the first year, and it will be reduced to 50:50 by the fifth year. After sharing the burden equally for five years, the states will start meeting the costs on their own.
The central share for this will come from the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) budget, in which 6% has been set aside for administrative costs.
The qualification for the post of PDO is a degree or a diploma in rural development, business administration or public administration. And for the post of JE, a degree or a diploma in engineering is required. The appointments will be done by the state government. In the case of the 60 Integrated Action Plan (IAP) districts (for tribal and semi-tribal areas), candidates are to be recruited locally, providing some relaxation in the terms of appointment.
In those districts, the cost sharing will be 75:25 for 10 years. After that, the states will pay the gram panchayat cadre.
The ministry mooted the idea of a dedicated panchayat cadre in 2010, but the proposal was shelved due to lack of funds. The allocation for the NREGS in the budget for 2011-12 is Rs 40,000 crore.