Indian govt proposes changes in job guarantee scheme for increasing investment in agriculture
New Delhi, June 19:
The Indian government has decided to bring broad changes in the rural job guarantee scheme launched by UPA by proposing at least Rs 25,000 crore of investment into agriculture alone.
The Rural Development Ministry has proposed to bring amendment to the Schedule I of the MNREGA Act “to clearly bring forth the focus on agriculture”. It has proposed to add provisions after Para 4 (2) of Schedule I of the Act.
“The works taken up under MNREGA shall enhanceproductivity in agriculture by creating infrastructure helpful for agriculture,” says the ministry in a note sent to all states seeking their suggestions on the matter.
The states have been asked to respond before June 23.
According to the proposal, the district programme coordinator shall ensure that at least 60 per cent of the works to be taken up in a district in terms of cost shall be for creation of productive assets linked to agriculture and allied activities through development of land, water and trees.
“This is expected to bring at least Rs 25,000 crore of investment into agriculture,” the ministry note says.
The government has suggested new solutions to address the issues including poor asset quality, absence of adequate technical staff for planning or supervision and lack of outcome orientation in the works being carried out under the MNREGA.
“A special provision of 3% of the value of works done will be created for provision of technical supervision for the works. This amount will be used to deploy required technical manpower to guide in the planning and execution,” it says.
Experts have been advocating changes in NREGA so that the programme could focus on helping agriculture sector
“Currently, NREGA is more like a dole under the ‘rights approach’. We need to turn it into a development project, be it for constructing low cost housing in rural areas, or toilets and sanitation facilities, or re-charging ground water through check dams, or rejuvenating our degraded forests. It must be an integral part of such development projects. The change from dole to development model can give productive and sustainable employment to people,” Ashok Gulati, Chair Professor Agriculture, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) and former Chairman of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) told www.indianagribusiness.com.