NDA turns to UPA's rural job scheme

Poor monsoon forcing govt to intensify implementation

Notwithstanding the scathing attack on UPA’s schemes, the Modi government would fall back on the previous regime’s flagship programme to rescue the rural economy from second consecutive deficient monsoon.

The government would intensify implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in drought hit areas to stop the slide in rural incomes.

Officials revealed that the main thrust in MGNREGA implementation in drought affected areas will be around water conservation and harvesting.

 “As many as 1.16 lakh projects related to water harvesting are being implemented under MGNREGA,” they said.

The issue of intensifying the rural job scheme came up for discussion at a meeting convened by Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Friday to review the preparedness of various government departments in the wake of IMG’s predictions of deficient monsoon.

Experts suggested increase in MGNREGA wages as a one-off measure in a crises year to assure income in rural areas when farm jobs would be fewer.

They had also favoured offering more work under the scheme than a normal year, a move that would enable even small and marginal farmers to earn minimum wages.

Congress has been accusing the Modi government of neglecting its flagship scheme by slashing budgetary allocations.

In 2014-15, the scheme’s allocation was preened in the revised estimates to around Rs 31,000 crore from Rs 34,000 crore.

However Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had given a marginal hike in the allocation for the scheme in February’s general budget.

In remarks dripping with sarcasm, Modi had assured the Congress that MGNREGA, which assures 100 days of manual work a year to at least one member of every village household, will never be disbanded.

“I will ensure MNREGA is never discontinued. It is proof of your failings. After so many years of being in power, all you were able to deliver is for a poor man to dig ditches a few days a month,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Congress in Parliament.

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