Bangalore, December 22: Works taken up under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, in convergence with other government departments, should be directed at making villages in Karnataka “drought-proof”, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister H.K. Patil has said.
Inaugurating a workshop on convergence of MNREGA works with resources of other departmental programmes here on Saturday, the Minister emphasised the need to harness the employment guarantee scheme to revive the sagging agricultural economy and make farming productive.
While the MNREGA is often cited as the reason for scarcity of farm labour, thus adding to the agricultural crisis, it could be effectively used for works that create an atmosphere conducive to farm activity, Mr. Patil said. Many schemes such as planting farm bund trees and reviving farm tanks would serve this purpose, he added.
The Minister said working in convergence with the MNREGA was not only aimed at stopping duplication of work, but also in helping other departments fill their resource gaps. The scheme, Mr. Patil said, was the most important nation-building exercise that goes beyond the mandate of employment generation.
The Minister said that many targets that were believed to be too ambitious — for example of building 6 lakh rural toilets — were doing well under the MNREGA. “We received 6.25 lakh applications and 2.7 lakh toilets have already been built within three months,” he said.
T.M. Vijay Bhaskar, Principal Secretary, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, discussed schemes under various departments that could be integrated with the MNREGA, as long as they did not use labour-displacing machinery. Several schemes had been identified for convergence of funds and for technical assistance and management according to the direction of the Union government.
G.V. Krishna Rau, Additional Chief Secretary-cum-Development Commissioner, said inculcating transparency in the functioning of other departments, in line with the practice in the MNREGA, would make convergence easier.