Realising the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) was a major factor in the Congress’s success in the Lok Sabha elections, Opposition-ruled states too want to reap its benefits.
On Tuesday, the chief ministers of some of these states called on Union Rural Development Minister C.P. Joshi to discuss the implementation of the scheme — the world’s largest social security plan — and other rural development programmes in their states.
The visiting CMs were Prakash Singh Badal (Punjab) and Shivraj Singh Chauhan (Madhya Pradesh). They were joined by Karnataka Rural Development Minister Shobha Karandlaje. Karnataka CM B.S. Yediyurappa is likely to meet Joshi on Wednesday.
Chauhan raised the problems faced by tribal NREGA workers in getting their wages from banks and post offices. He said many workers had to travel long distance to get their wages as there are no post offices and banks in some areas.
The Centre has made payment of NREGA wages through banks and post offices mandatory.
Joshi suggested streamlining of state revenue agencies like treasuries in such areas.
Badal — who has been rural development minister in Punjab in the past — sought liberalisation of polices under NREGA so that mechanised work comes under the ambit of the scheme.
Joshi told him that under the NREGA funding pattern, 60 per cent is earmarked for labour and 40 per cent for material, which could include mechanised work.
At the meeting, Minister of State for Rural Development Pradeep Jain expressed concern over the migration of labour in the Bundelkhand region. He said railway stations at many places in the region are full of workers migrating to different cities and towns in search of employment.