The Central Employment Guarantee Council (CEGC), which is slated to meet early next week, will be considering a proposal for creating Bharat Nirman Rajiv Gandhi Sewa Kendra for each gram panchayat with the help of NREGS labour and with the cost borne by other Central schemes like Backward Regions Grant Fund.
Interestingly, as the country battles with a drought where NREGS is likely to act as a much desired safety net, the Ministry plans to take up this project as the “core activity” apart from the ongoing works in the scheme.
The proposal also includes a suggestion for appointment of permanent Lok Sewaks for “safeguarding the rights of the workers as well as to compel the Gram Panchayats to abide by the legally normative processes” along with a proposal to push states for appointment of permanent staff specifically for NREGS.
The move follows the recommendations of a Task Force constituted by the Ministry for examining demands for widening the scope for permissible works under the scheme. The task force had suggested two broad categories, namely social infrastructure and social services, comprising 10 new types of permissible works. Currently, the scope of the scheme is limited to unskilled manual labour.
As part of creating social infrastructure, the Task Force has identified construction of toilet pits and individual latrines for BPL families under Total Sanitation Campaign, construction of houses for BPL families under the Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) and Tribal Sub-plan, playgrounds and mini-stadiums, as well as Anganwadis.
As part of the social services category, the CEGC would be considering a proposal for employment of NREGS labour for cooking of mid-day meal; running of crèches as well as cooking meals for children below three years of age in adjoining anganwadis; and barefoot engineers for planning of works under the NREGS.
However, the Ministry has attached the rider that since these social services would not require “hard labour” and would only be “more in nature of part time services”, these category of works should be “reserved” for “old age persons with disability/destitution, preferably women, living alone without succor.” The proposal also includes doubling the land ceiling to 10 hectares under the new notification that allows works on the private land of small and marginal farmers in the rainfed areas.