To mitigate drought-like situation and water scarcity, the Centre on Tuesday directed states that 50% of all works taken up at district level under MNREGA should be for improving water conservation.
The decision was taken by Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari in response to widespread criticism by MPs and people's representatives at the local level that MNREGA has become a source of corruption and that no productive assets are being created through the rural job scheme.
According to the ministry, 50 per cent of works under MNREGA will be done for constructing check dams, de-silting of traditional water bodies, minor irrigation tanks and canals. In a press note, the minister said that as these works require combination of wage labour and machinery, the percentage on skilled component has been increased up to 49%.
Increase in the skilled percentage from 40% to 49% is enabling provision which empowers states, if they so wish to do part of work of check dams, minor irrigation tanks with machinery, while doing balance 51 per cent on muster payment to labour.
Gadkari said that if states wish to retain the skilled proportion to 40%, they are free to do so. This change was widely welcomed by MPs and expert water shed NGO activists like Rajendra Singh and Popat Rao Pawar, the release said.
They said that this change will enable MGNREGA to put in place ridge to valley visible water harvesting structures and help to mitigate drought and water scarcity.
The minister has also directed the Rural Development Ministry that all payments and fund transfer to states should be made on E-payment platform and on a just in time basis so that wage payment are not delayed beyond one week in any case.