Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Naxals backing NREGA?

Vishwa Mohan, TNN, Apr 14, 2010, 02.47am IST

NEW DELHI: Maoists may be opposed to various development projects in their pockets of influence but they are not opposed to the National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREGA) scheme — the government’s flagship programme of providing jobs to rural poor — leading to its better implementation in Red zone.

This came to light on Tuesday when cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar reviewed the progress of the government’s ongoing development programmes in 33 most Naxal-affected districts across states at the 11th meeting of the task force comprising Union home secretary G K Pillai and secretaries of other ministries.

The finding that the Maoists are not opposing NREGA is a testimony to the pull of the scheme which played a key role in UPA’s win in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. It offers a valuable insight to the government just when it is looking for a police-plus approach to deal with the menace of extremism. The meeting, coming close on the heels of the killing of 76 security personnel in the worst ever Naxal attack in Dantewada, took stock of the progress made in the implementation of Forest Rights Act which will benefit Scheduled Tribe and other traditional forest dwellers, NREGA, National Rural Heath Mission (NRHM), Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Pradhan Matri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) among others.

It was found that the overall percentage of expenditure (disbursal of fund to beneficiaries) under NREGA was 72.76% in these 33 districts as compared to 41.04% under PMGSY, 57.44% under NRHM and 37.60% for programmes under the Forest Rights Act in the April 2009-January 2010 period.

Chief secretaries of seven states presented their reports to the task force and discussed issues through video conferencing during the meeting. They are learnt to have told the task force that the implementation of NREGA was found to be quite successful in the Naxal-affected districts as Maoists are not opposed to the scheme which provides jobs to local people mainly poor tribals in the affected districts.

Jharkhand has the maximum 10 districts in the category followed by seven in Chhattisgarh, six in Bihar, five in Orissa and two in Maharashtra. Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have one district each.

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