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Birender Singh takes charge as rural development minister

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New Delhi, Nov 11 (IANS) Union Rural Development Minister Birender Singh on Tuesday assumed office and indicated that the rural employment guarantee act would continue in the entire country and not just in some districts.

A former Congressman, Birender Singh said there was no doubt that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act had benefited the poor.

He said the Rs.40,000 crore allocation for the rural job scheme was not for any specific region.

"Some people had never seen a Rs.500 note in their lifetime in this country. The MGNREGA has managed to reach out to them," he told media after taking charge as minister for rural development, panchayati raj and drinking water and sanitation.

His predecessor Nitin Gadkari had planned to restrict the rural job scheme to the most backward 200 districts of the country.

Gadkari had said that the MGNREGA guaranteeing up to 100 days of unskilled work in a year to every rural household was not required in areas having higher growth.

Gadkari’s remarks had drawn protests from economists and activists who said it would affect the poor of the country.

Birender Singh, however, acknowledged that there were some problems in implementation of the scheme and said the current government would try to correct them.

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