-The Deccan Chronicle
Seven years after unveiling the rural job guarantee scheme, the Centre on Tuesday announced a major extension of scope of works under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) in a bid to revive demand for jobs, which witnessed over 20 per cent dip in the last financial year. Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday tabled the “MNREGA 2.0 — the second generation reforms” for the flag scheme in both Houses of Parliament. The revamped MNREGA is based on the Mihir Shah-led committee report and also on demands raised by various state governments, including Bihar, Kerala, Sikkim and Madhya Pradesh. A list of 30 works has been incorporated in the schedules of MNREGA, which are intended to asset creation and improving livelihoods of the poor in the rural areas, said Mr Ramesh. Among the works, which have been included are watershed development, agricultural productivity, livestock, fisheries and sanitation. The MNREGA 2.0 has accepted the demands of the Bihar government to include works on flood control in the ambit of the flagship scheme, including traditional chaur renovation, which helps in soaking water in the rural areas. It has also incorporated demands of the Sikkim government for springshed development, which is likely to ensure that MNREGA creates demands for jobs in the Himalayan region. The works have been divided into 10 broad categories, which include watershed, irrigation and flood management, agricultural and livestock related works, fisheries and works in coastal areas, which was sought by the Kerala government, and the rural drinking water and Sanitation related works. He also clarified as sought out by the Bihar government that the priority of the works would be decided by panchayats in meetings of gram sabhas and ward sabhas.