'Give freedom to states in use of rural funds'

  • Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has made a strong pitch for flexibility in use of funds under his ministry and suggested to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that 50 percent of his ministry's annual allocation be given to states as flexi-funds by the end of 12th Plan. 
  • The minister, who was in Kerala on a three-day visit, called for a change in architecture of rural development programmes so that better developed states reap as much benefit as those lower on the development parameters. 
  • Ramesh said that rural development programmes did not have "built-in flexibility" and were "too rigid". He said that rural development schemes were focused more on states that were backward and did not reflect the needs of states like Kerala which has high literacy and effective grassroots organisations. 
  • The rural development ministry, which monitors some key flagship schemes of United Progressive Alliance Government (UPA), pumps in around Rs 90,000 crore every year in rural development schemes. 
  • The demand for greater flexibility in rural schemes also came from Kerala Rural Development Minister KC Joseph who met Ramesh and participated with him at a Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) meet in Alapuezha district. 
  • Joseph demanded that coir industry in the state should be included in MGNREGA and working hours under the scheme should be 9 am to 4 pm as there is high participation of women.
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