Want flexibility in NREGA, objectives not met in states: Ramesh

Jairam Ramesh strongly pitched for bringing flexibility in UPA`s flagship NREGA, saying it has not achieved all the three objectives.

PTI| Updated: Dec 15, 2013, 20:00 PM IST

New Delhi: Union Minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday strongly pitched for bringing flexibility in UPA`s flagship NREGA, saying it has not achieved all the three objectives of providing wage employment, create community assets and empower gram panchayats in any state.

Noting that not all the jobs cannot be provided in the areas where the youths want them, he called for encouraging migration across all states by putting in place a policy that removes discrimination against migrants and said some "trade-offs" have to be made in the future programme.

"There are three objectives of NREGA. First to provide wage employment, second is to create durable community assets and third to empower gram panchayats. In states where NREGA has been successful, only two out of the three objectives have been fulfilled. In no states, all three objectives have been fulfilled," the Rural Development Minister said.

He was speaking at an event to unveil the Indian Labour and Employment Report -2014.

Giving examples of this, Ramesh said that while Andhra Pradesh, which is the pace setter for NREGA, has provided wage employment and durable assets, it has simply bypassed the locally elected gram panchayats.

In some north Indian states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Gram Panchayats have been empowered, wage employment has been created but community assets have not been visible, he said.

"At the end of six years, it is important for us to pause a little and ask ourselves how will we use NREGA now in the next phase? Can we use it to stimulate skill employment not of the urban nature as it is not possible? We need to introduce flexibility i the Act," Ramesh said.

"So inherent in the design of this programme is an impossible trilemma. So some trade-offs have to be made in the future programme," he added.

Terming migration as "inherent in the employment strategy" which creates creates a whole set of social and political issues, Ramesh said that it has been very clear to him that his ministry can never provide jobs in the areas where youth want them.

"We are not going to be able to create all the jobs in that state and it has to be outside but then we run into a whole set of social barriers," Ramesh added.

"We should encourage migration. We should not put any barriers to migration. We should utilise this opportunity to put in place a set of policy that removes discrimination against migrants," Ramesh said.