Himachal seeks relaxation in rural employment guarantee scheme norms

Shimla: With the rural employment guarantee scheme faltering in Himachal, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has sought changes in norms for hilly regions and take into consideration of higher costs involved because of topographical constraints.

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The chief minister placed the states case before Jairam Ramesh, the union minister for rural development, who was here in connection with inauguration of seminar about audit processes being held at the National Academy of Audits and Accounts.

Dhumal requested the union minister to provide requisite number of days of works to the job card holders as per their demand.

He said that whereas the act only provides 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year, the number of days needed to be enhanced substantially so that it could benefit below poverty line families.

The chief minister said that while quality of assets created under MNREGA needed improvement, but the norms fixed for material cost to wage cost needed to be revised in hilly areas like Himachal Pradesh as it was difficult to create durable assets with wage and material ratio.

Dhumal also sought a provision for employing people under the employment scheme towards crop protection because wild animals were destroying or damaging crops of farmers in the state.

He also let the visiting minister know that natural calamity, which occur often in hilly areas, restoration of damaged assets including buildings should also be brought under the ambit of the scheme as an immediate relief measure.

Jairam Ramesh lauded the states execution of the open defecation free program saying that Himachal happened to be one for the top five states in the country that had successfully implemented it.

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