Saturday, February 5, 2011

Left states top MNREGA chart

Prasad Nichenametla, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 03, 2011

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is showing better success of creating assets — ponds or roads — in the two Left ruled states.

BJP-ruled states Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are laggards, but some Congress states such as Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, too, are at the bottom.

“Real successes of MGNREGA is when land resources are regenerated letting lakhs of marginal farmers go back to agriculture — bringing down the need of the programme,” PM Manmohan Singh said during the fifth anniversary of MNREGA on Wednesday.

Even as the PM was stressing on delivering durable assets and new employment avenues in villages through the scheme, the reality is quite different.

Against 68 lakh works taken up this fiscal, only 3.1 lakh — under 5%— are completed so far (latest as per MNREGA site). The works range from digging water harvest pits to building rural roads.

The mammoth target, ministry officials say includes a huge spill over of work — at various stages, some yet to start — from previous years and a result of less than 50% achievement in 2009-10 and 2008-09.

“Works are planned at village level and their completion depends on availability of workers,” said Vilasrao Deshmukh, rural development minister.

But against the national average of 4.63%, the two Left-ruled states Kerala and West Bengal are topping the work charts with 31% and 20.3% of their works done till now.

“Success of Kerala and West Bengal is not surprising as they have got strong gram panchayats — the back bone of the scheme,” a ministry official said.

BK Sinha, secretary, rural department admits the drawbacks, a point also made by the PM. He said, “There is lack of planning at ground level and added to that is the dearth of expert human resources. A major concern when we aim creation of lasting impact on rural economy.

Success stories, in pockets such as in Rajasthan’s Banswara district where barren hills are turning green with Jatropha plantation under the scheme, are few. Planners want such activity in all 625 districts.

“Lot needs to be done to increase capacities of panchayat raj institutions so that they tackle responsibilities,” Singh said.

No comments: