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UPA govt admits to huge slips in NREGS

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The UPA government has admitted to huge slips in the implementation of the flagship rural jobs scheme with an average of just 48 days of work generated for each beneficiary against the promised 100.

“The average (of 100 days work for each rural family) has not been achieved,” Rural Development Minister C P Joshi admitted in the Rajya Sabha, while replying to a question on the functioning of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), adding that the onus for its implementation lay on the states.

“The state governments are not successful and so the people are getting agitated. The state governments are lax,” he said.

“During 2006-07, an average of 43 days of work could be generated, in 2007-09 it was 42 days of work and in 2008-09, it was 48 days of work,” the minister added.

The figures he gave for some of states were even more dismal.

In West Bengal for instance, in the years cited, respectively 14, 25 and 6 days of work could be generated, while the figures for Bihar were 36, 22 and 2.

Madhya Pradesh, however, managed to generate 69, 63 and 69 days of work during the three years.

Launched in 2006-07, the NREGS aims to provide 100 days of work for each rural family across the country with wages of Rs.100 per day.

Describing the scheme as a “magnificent success”, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, while presenting the budget for 2009-10, had announced a raise in the allocation to INR 39, 100 crore – a hike of 144%.

The Congress also cites NREGS as one of the major factors that helped it connect to the people and return to power in the April-May general elections.

Responding to a supplementary by Mahendra Mohan (Samajwadi Party) on how the government would ensure that the targets envisaged under the scheme were met, Joshi said: “The implementation is the responsibility of the states. Government gives directions on implementation and guidelines on payments.”

Raising a supplementary, Shobana Bhartia (Nominated) said: “There is a problem of delivery. There is no clarity on the nature of jobs created. There are no visible assets created. Is a holistic approach not required? When will this be kick-started?”

Joshi agreed that “we require a holistic approach and we are seized of the matter”.

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