The bill seeking to guarantee employment in rural areas -- a promise made in the Common Minimum Programme of the United Progressive Alliance government -- is likely to be taken up for consideration in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
"The National Rural Employment Guarantee Bill is likely to be taken up tomorrow for consideration and passing after incorporating various recommendations to amend the legislation," Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh told reporters after a 90-minute meeting leaders of Left parties had with him and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.
The meeting was chaired by Defence Minister and Leader of the Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee, who had headed the Group of Ministers (GoM) set up to go into the bill, which had been referred to the Standing Committee of the Parliament last year.
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The amended bill, which was cleared by the union cabinet last week, seeks to provide 100 days of employment to each rural household instead of the earlier provision of providing employment to only below poverty line families in rural areas.
Singh said during his meeting with the leaders of the Left parties, he sought to allay their apprehensions on the availability of funds for implementing the ambitious scheme, disclosing that the Centre would provide necessary backup.
"Efforts will be made to get the bill passed during the current session of Parliament itself," he said.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is likely to speak on the bill when it is taken up for discussion. The amendments have been drafted after taking into consideration the recommendations made by the Group of Ministers, Standing Committee of Parliament and National Advisory Council headed by Sonia Gandhi.
While 150 districts had been identified for launching the scheme, 50 more districts would soon be identified by the Planning Commission for the purpose.
Through an amendment, Panchayati Raj Institutions would play an important role in selection and sanction of schemes. The amendments also seek to ensure that the guarantee once applicable is not withdrawn on government direction.
In order to make the provisions of the act fully effective, the entire financial burden could be borne by the central government with the states meeting expenditure on account of the unemployment allowances.
Another important amendment was that the provisions of the bill should ensure that Panchayati Samiti played a central role in the selection of works as well as in their implementation and monitoring.