The second phase of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) will act as a catalyst for countering the Naxalite uprisings in the country.
Jairam Ramesh, union minister for rural development and panchayat, made this statement on Friday on a tour of villages in the Guruharsahai and Jalalabad assembly segments of Ferozepur and Fazilka districts, respectively, of Punjab.
The Centre has widened the scope of the MNREGS-2 to include works related to agriculture, animal husbandry, poultry, and drinking water and sanitation. Earlier, it was limited to water and soil conservation, forestation, and land development.
In his public address at Megha Rai Uttar village of the Guruharsahai constituency, Ramesh accepted that in the implementation of the ongoing Indian flagship programmes countrywide, the ineligible stole the benefit of the poor and eligible.
The PM has asked Ramesh to review the implementation of Central programmes related to health, roads and other infrastructure in the border districts of Punjab (Ferozepur, Fazilka, Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Pathankot and Tarn Taran).
Punjab ministers Surjit Singh Rakhra and Sharanjit Singh Dhillon; and Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Congress legislator from Guruharsahai, accompanied the Central minister on his tour.
"Of 16,000 villages in Punjab, mere 200 were covered under the Nirmal Gram Yojna," said Ramesh. "In another three years, all villages of the state will be covered under the basic amenities schemes on the lines of Haryana and Maharashtra. Neither political differences nor the shortage of money will shake our efforts towards eradicating poverty."
"I will speak with chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on the implementation of the Central programmes," said Ramesh. People raised the issue of compensation to farmers tilling land across the security fence along the Pakistan. The Centre has not paid them for the past eight years.
The minister also visited Ghajniwala, Dona Matter, Chak Rao Kee, and Megha Rai Hedar, and interacted with villagers as well. MLA Rana Sodhi demanded Rs 15 crore for the villages of the Guruharsahai constituency and for raising a committee to monitor the implementation of the Central programmes such as the MNREGS, Pardhan Mantry Gram Sadak Yojna, rural housing, toilets in villages, and literacy mission.
"The Centre will issue substantial grant to villages with more than 50% Scheduled Caste population," said Sodhi.