Want flexibility in Nrega, objectives not met in states: Jairam Ramesh
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New Delhi: , Batting for bringing flexibility in UPA’s flagship Nrega (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act), Union minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday said the scheme has failed to achieve the three objectives of wage employment, creating community assets and empowering gram panchayats at the same time in any state.
Stating that all jobs cannot be provided in areas where the youths want them, he called for encouraging migration across all states and noted with concern the “discrimination” in housing suffered by youths from Jammu and Kashmir who are employed outside the state.
He said there was a need to put in place a policy that removes discrimination against migrants, and said some “trade offs” have to be made in the future programme. “There are three objectives of NREGA. First to provide wage employment, second is to create durable community assets and third to empower gram panchayats. In states where NREGA has been successful, only two out of the three objectives have been fulfilled. In no states, all three objectives have been fulfilled,” the rural development minister said. He was speaking at an event to unveil the Indian Labour and Employment Report -2014.
Giving examples of this, Ramesh said that while Andhra Pradesh, which is the pace setter for NREGA, has provided wage employment and durable assets, it has simply bypassed the locally elected gram panchayats.
In some north Indian states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, gram panchayats have been empowered, wage employment has been created but community assets have not been visible, he said.
“At the end of six years, it is important for us to pause a little and ask ourselves how will we use NREGA now in the next phase? Can we use it to stimulate skill employment not of the urban nature as it is not possible? We need to introduce flexibility in the Act,” Ramesh said.
“So inherent in the design of this programme is an impossible trilemma. So some trade offs have to be made in the future programme,” he added.