30 new activities brought under NREGS
The government has amended Schedule-I and Schedule-II of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREG) Act, 2005. There is now an expansion of the scope of activities permitted under the MNREGS by including 30 new activities. These will supplement agricultural and animal husbandry operations along with flood management and sanitation-related works in rural India.
• The amendment will provide for inclusion of vermi-composting, liquid bio-manures, creation of poultry and goat shelters, construction of pucca floors for cattle, development of public water bodies for fisheries, construction of fish drying yards and rehabilitation of minor, sub-minor and field channels for irrigation among the permissible activities to benefit the agriculture sector.
• The amendments into the Schedule, which do not require the approval of Parliament, also include sanitation-related activities like construction of soak pits and recharge pits, individual household latrines, toilet units in schools and anganwadis as another set of permissible activities. The move is expected to supplement government’s Total Sanitation Campaign in rural areas.
In another key change, the government has empowered Gram Panchayats to set the priority of the works that should be undertaken in respective Panchayats, by doing away with the existing criteria where the priority of works was fixed from the Centre. The decision was taken at a suggestion by CM of Bihar that had highlighted the difficulty of the state government in undertaking flood management-related works as they fell way down the priority list fixed by the Centre. The order of priority shall be determined by each Gram Panchayat in meetings of the gram sabha and the ward sabha.