PM to Planning Commission: Address gaps in NREGA



New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday expressed surprise that concurrent evaluation of NREGA scheme is "not in good shape" and directed the Planning Commission to address the deficiency and "gaps".

Making it clear that he was not "fully satisfied" with the way the scheme is working, he noted the problems like delayed payment to workers under the government's flagship and said these should be addressed at the earliest.

"The Mahatma Gandhi NREGA story in numbers is a story worth telling.... The scheme scores high on inclusivness...No welfare scheme in recent memory has caught the imagination of the people as much as NREGA has," Singh said.

"...(but) statistics do not tell the whole truth," he said while releasing 'NREGA Sameeksha", a collection of research studies conducted on the programme under which Rs 1,10,000 crore have been spent to pay wages to 1,200 crore people.

Singh said he was "surprised to hear from (Rural Development Minister) Jairam Ramesh that concurrent evaluation processes are not in good shape".

He referred to the "gaps" highlighted by Ramesh and Planning Commission member Mihir Shah that need to be fixed.

Concurrent evaluation is the assessment of the impact of the scheme while it is implemented, without waiting for annual or any other periodic audit.

"I don't know why they are languishing, if they are at all languishing. But I would request (Planning Commission Deputy Chairman) Montek (Singh Ahluwalia) to apply his mind to making good this deficiency as well," he said.

Both Ramesh and Ahluwalia were present at the programme.

The Prime Minister recalled that when he was in the Planning Commission, the process of concurrent evaluation was started for a number of programmes of rural development.

Referring to the issue of delayed payments to NREGA workforce, he said, "sooner we tackle this problem of delayed payments, I think better results would be in the offing."

PTI