Fixing MGNREGA

Oct 19 2013, 05:34 IST
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SummaryExtending MGNREGA to create godowns will help cut food waste, and is a far better use of resources

Given that FCI has just around 45 million tonnes of covered food storage capacity as compared to the 80 million tonnes of food it has, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh has done well to announce MGNREGA funds would be made available to defray the costs of building the extra storage FCI do desperately needs, more so if it has to implement the UPA’s flagship Food Security Act with any degree of seriousness—MGNREGA will pay the wages while state governments will provide the land and will benefit from the Food Security Act being implemented better where there are greater storage facilities. There are larger questions as to how much FCI should even be stocking, and the CACP has astonishing numbers on the waste due to this, but for now the important thing is greater flexibility in using MGNREGA.

MGNREGA’s progenitor, a similar scheme in Maharashtra, was a runaway success precisely because it defrayed the costs of farm labour for agriculturists who used the labour to create bunds, irrigation channels, whatever. Industries like sericulture have recently been allowed to use MGNREGA funding and the sooner more flexibility is provided in its usage, the better for everyone.

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