Rural development Jayant Patil on Tuesday said that implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) should be in the hands of his department instead of the Congress-controlled Water Conservation and Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) department, in the “best interests of the state.”
Patil statement comes in the wake of Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh’s missive to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, stating that the implementation of the scheme should be overseen Nationalist Congress Party, a demand which had caused disquiet in the state Congress.
Speaking to reporters at the state secretariat, Patil said: “I met Ramesh in September, when he ticked us off for poor implementation of the employment guarantee scheme. We told him that the Maharashtra rural development department (RDD) did not oversee the implementation of this scheme.
The NCP minister added that ever since the RDD took interest in the implementation of the scheme, in the beginning of the year, Rs700 crore had been received from the Centre and work had begun in nearly 20,000 villages. He accepted that his department had made this representation to Ramesh in their meeting earlier.
Congress minister Nitin Raut, who heads the EGS department, dismissed Patil’s claims. “Performance (of my department) is improved dramatically over the past one year. The CM has explained situation to Ramesh,” he told media.
Patil, in turn, dismissed Raut’s remarks. “We have not made a demand seeking EGS portfolio. It made by a senior Congress minister, which is justified because rural development can ensure better co-ordination as all EGS works are implemented through Panchayats,’’ said Patil.
Pulling the curtains over the matter, he said that the final decision rests with the chief minister.
Chavan had earlier said that there was no question of transferring the EGS department to NCP controlled Rural Development Department. Ramesh’s letter once again spurred the debate between the ruling allies over portfolios
Chavan has on earlier occasions expressed his displeasure over the portfolio distribution formula between the allies pointing out that key departments like home should be with the CM and not the alliance partner.