Continuing with its efforts at restructuring the rural job scheme MGNREGA, the NDA government on Monday directed states to concentrate on backward blocks instead of spreading thin in areas where there was no demand for work.
“For the year 2015-16 as a part of the labour budget exercise it has been decided that there should be greater focus on the backward blocks while conducting the labour budget exercise,” R Subrahmanyam, joint secretary, rural development ministry wrote to all the states. The latest move from government comes amid decreasing demand for work under the scheme with the average number of days worked by a beneficiary coming down to 45 in 2013-14 from 54 in 2009-10. “By asking the states to focus on backward blocks the government has finally submitted to the argument by officials in the rural development ministry that there was absolutely no point in universalizing the scheme,” a ministry official told.
The scheme, when started in 2006 covered the 200 most backward districts, but then was later universalized covering all districts in 2008. What the latest directing means is 2500 backward blocks (identified by the planning commission) of the 6576 total blocks will see better implementation in terms of asset creating and job guarantee. While the number of blocks identified by the planning commission as 2500 is indicative, the states will have to further carry out detailed survey to assess the kind of work to be carried out in these.