Politicians across party lines have sought transparency and accountability in the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme to ensure benefits reach the poorest of the poor.
The Congress-led UPA government on Wednesday held the first all-party meeting on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act since the launch of its flagship rural job scheme on February 2, 2006.
The job plan is credited with helping the Congress put up an impressive performance in the 15th Lok Sabha elections.
Of late, there have been concerns over the implementation and corruption marring the scheme that provides 100 days of work for one member of a family in a year.
Barring the Communist Party of India and the Bahujan Samaj Party, all the national parties attended the meeting called by Rural Development Minister CP Joshi.
The participants, which also included Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, discussed steps for effective implementation of the scheme at a time when almost half the country, 246 districts, is facing drought.
Prasad criticised the Bihar government for “poor implementation” and suggested vigilance and monitoring committees to ensure accountability.
The scheme was not reaching the poor as it should, complained BJP’s Rajendra Agrawal. The government should encourage afforestation — tree plantation is also an activity under the job plan — in view of global warming, he said.
The Nationalist Congress Party demanded that more works be included in the scheme as road building and de-silting of ponds had already been done in many places.
While Sandeep Dikhsit of the Congress called for better coordination between the Centre and states, CPM’s Ram Chander Dome favoured spot payments by banks in areas where they don’t have a presence.
Samajwadi Party’s Brij Bhushan Tewari said state governments were more interested in their programmes than the NREGA.
The minister admitted to shortcomings, but also said Centre had given adequate funds to states to tide over the drought.