The government is considering some proposals like spot payment by banks at the work-site and deploying paid gram panchayat representatives in the banks to process the dues to address the worrying issue of late payments in its flagship National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
''Lack of awareness, delayed payment of wages and non-maintenance of proper records like muster rolls, inability of workers to submit written applications, and quality of assets created under the scheme'' were affecting its implementation, rural development minister C P Joshi told an all-party meeting convened by his ministry on the NREGS on Wednesday.
Cutting across political lines, parties including the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party have asked for lifting the cap of 100 days of employment under the scheme, considering the backdrop of fall in agriculture output and the prevailing drought-like situation.
However, while leaders like Ram Chandra Dome of the CPI(M), Lalu Prasad Yadav (RJD) and Govindrao Adik (NCP) asked for longer employment under the scheme, minister of state for rural development Sisir Adhikari (Trinamool Congress) pointed out that most of the states had been unable to fill even the 100 days' quota.
Adhikari alleged that many states were not spending the administrative funds properly but storing the money in the bank to earn interest. The ministry also agreed with political leaders that stronger supervision and better flow of information were required.
Joshi said the priority of the ministry was on the convergence of NREGS (or NREG Act, as it is also known since its enactment into law) with other schemes. He also told the meeting that the government has placed adequate funds with the states to tide over the crisis caused by the drought in 250 districts of the country.