A proposal to give foodgrains instead of cash to agriculture workers under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act has "not received" any positive response, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told Rajya Sabha.
He was responding to a demand from J D Seelam (Cong) that the government should pay 50 per cent of wages to agriculture labourers working on private land in Andhra Pradesh from MNREGA fund as farmers are not getting labour.
Acknowledging the member's contention that Andhra Pradesh has given a record production, Pawar said this was a subject that is not dealt by his ministry but "certain specific suggestions have been made".
"Instead of wages in rupees, a suggestion has been made whether we can provide certain foodgrains to the concerned department. They are examining it.
"A second suggestion has been given to the concerned department whether they can provide a certain number of NREGA workers for agricultural operation. But we have not received any positive response from them," Pawar said.
In a recent letter to Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, Minister for Food K V Thomas had proposed providing foodgrains to workers as part of MNREGA wages.
Agriculture labourers working on private land are receiving part of wages under MNREGA in various states.
It is learnt that the Rural Development ministry is not in favour of the demand.
Through a short notice question in Zero Hour Seelam asked the minister whether he would consider dovetailing NREGA funds with the rest of the agricultural operations so that 50 per cent comes from the NREGA and the rest from the farmers.
"This will release the burden of the farmers to a great extent. This will also reduce corruption because when a farmer gives 50 per cent, he will ensure that the labourer comes and works," Seelam said.