‘NREGA work must go on during farm season’
The ministry of rural development has written to all the states warning them not to go slow or suspend works under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act at any point of time in the year.delhi Updated: Aug 03, 2011 01:36 IST
The ministry of rural development has written to all the states warning them not to go slow or suspend works under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act at any point of time in the year.
The communication reminding the provisions of the right to work Act comes in the wake of reports that some states are going slow in execution of works under the UPA's flagship social sector programme, during peak farming seasons.
"It has come to our notice that some states are going slow or have not been taking up new works under the same during kharif season. There is no provision of any suspension in NREGA entitlement in any season. Not providing work would tantamount to a penal offence and is also liable for compensation," the ministry letter to the state secretaries said."New works will continue to be taken up as per the demand generated," the letter adds.
The MGNREGA provides every rural household with 100 days of unskilled manual work in a financial year.
Though initiated as a programme to ensure livelihood in lean farm seasons, the scheme is facing protest from the farming community complaining of labour scarcity and steep hike in farm wages following the Act.
The department of rural development — which implements the R40, 000 crore annual budget programme — had received several representations from the states and farmers bodies to tune the programme according to farming needs.
The concern also led the agriculture ministry to write to the rural ministry asking for suspension of NREGA works during peak farming seasons of sowing, transplantation and harvesting — to facilitate supply of labour. HT reported about the letter and the NREGA vs. agriculture debate on July 14.
"We have also communicated to the agriculture ministry that the Act does not allow such suspensions. NREGA is a legal entitlement and we cannot say no to a person coming to us for work," a ministry official said.