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Ians

New Delhi: The rural employment guarantee act has lessened people's migration from villages to cities for work and the government would work towards strengthening the scheme, Rural Development Minister Birender Singh said Monday.

"Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is a scheme which will be strengthened. We will not do anything to dilute it," Birender Singh said at a function to mark the completion of 10 years of the flagship programme.

The scheme was launched by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government during its first term to tremendous electoral advantage.

Singh said that for his ministry, the biggest job of MGNREGA is to generate employment among the rural poor. "Assets which are created are useful for the villages but it comes second in the list of priorities after employment generation."

Asserting that his ministry wants to focus on convergence of employment guarantee and asset creation, the minister said that assets thus created should have a durability of 60-70 years and not just three to four years.

He promised to allocate the maximum funds for the programme and blamed the state governments for delay in payment to beneficiaries.

Economists and activists alike had protested the government's reported move to dilute the programme last year. But the NDA government had clarified in parliament that there would be no whittling down of funds for the programme.

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