Thiruvananthapuram: To make rural job guarantee scheme MGNREGS more productive, Kerala has suggested changes in the scheme.
These changes will be presented at a meeting to be held here Tuesday with union Minister for Rural Development Chaudhary Birender Singh, Minister for Rural Development K.C. Joseph told reporters on Thursday.
Eight state ministers will also attend the meeting.
"Our request to the Centre has been that states should get the freedom to make suitable changes and we will present our case, based on a detailed study report...," said Joseph.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) has seen close to Rs.2,000 crore being pumped into Kerala in the past three years for the running of the scheme.
"Our major demand is that this should not just be an employment scheme; instead, it should be linked to production. For that, we want segments like animal husbandry, the traditional industries like the handloom and coir to be included. Through this not only will employment be generated, but production in these sectors would also increase," said Joseph.
He pointed out if dairy activity is also included, Kerala will become self-sufficient in milk production.
Today Kerala has a milk shortfall of three lakh litres. The MGNREGS can bridge this gap. Each and every farmer would be able to get an additional income as people spend a lot of time in this activity. The payment under MGNREGS in the dairy sector could be done by calculating the output of milk that each farmer generates.
"Similarly the handloom and the coir sector also would benefit," said Joseph. In 2013, Kerala received Rs.910 crore through the MGNREGS but last year the funding fell to Rs.621 crore as certain modifications were made in the programme that related to the nature of work.
"We will insist that under the MGNREGS, up to 40 percent of funds be set aside for buying materials, which will lead to asset creation. What happens now is that the labour cost element is very high and hence the quality of asset created is very poor," added Joseph.