New Delhi: As MGNREGA completes ten years on Tuesday, Narendra Modi govermment, which earlier appeared critical of the UPA's flagship rural job scheme, on Monday hailed the measure saying the achievements of a decade are a "cause of "national pride and celebration".
In a statement, the government also claimed that the last financial year saw a "revival" of the programme and announced that the focus in upcoming years will be towards simplifying and strengthening the procedures of the scheme and towards building sustainable assets to benefit the poor.
Some announcements are also expected on Tuesday when Finance Minister Arun Jaitley delivers a keynote address at MGNREGA SAMMELAN-2016.
The government statement added that there will be a renewed focus on sustainable individual assets to benefit the poor and vulnerable households under the scheme in future.
Marking the completion of ten years of UPA's flagship rural job guarantee scheme, which was announced by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi in February 2006, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi will tomorrow visit Bandlapalli village of Anantpur in Andhra Pradesh from where the scheme had taken off.
The UPA government had then described it as "a landmark in our history in removing poverty from the face of the nation".
The Narendra Modi-led NDA government, which was initially critical of the scheme, has continued with the programme even as the Prime Minister had last year dubbed it a "living monument" of Congress' "failure" to tackle poverty in last 60 years.
"Do you think, I will put an end to the scheme. My political wisdom does not allow me to do it. This is a living monument of your failure to tackle poverty in 60 years. With song and dance and drum beat, I will continue with the scheme," Modi had said during the Budget Session last year.
In a statement, the Rural Development Ministry has said that the achievements of MGNREGA of a decade are a cause of national pride and celebration.
It noted that since the start of the programme, the expenditure on the programme has amounted to over Rs 3,13,844. 55 crore of which 71 per cent has been spent on wage payments to workers.
"Of the workers, the percentage of Scheduled Caste workers has consistently been about 20 per cent and Scheduled Tribe workers has been about 17 per cent," it said adding that a total of over 1,980 crore person days have been generated so far out of which the percentage worked by women has steadily increased much above the statutory minimum of 33 per cent.
"Sustainable assets have been created linked to conservation of natural resources and overall development of Gram Panchayats. More than 65 per cent of the works taken up under the programme are linked to agriculture and allied activities," it said.