Within a fortnight of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rejecting the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council's suggestion to link the NREGS (employment guarantee scheme) wages to minimum wages in states, an expert panel appointed by the prime minister has said that it ''will not be possible to implement the NAC recommendations'' for the proposed national food security legislation (See: PM rebuffs Sonia demand on NREGA payments).
Going against the NAC recommendation to provide ''legal entitlement'' to about 75 per cent of the population, a panel chaired by C Rangarajan, chairman of the prime minister's economic advisory council, said it was not feasible considering project food availability and large subsidy implications (of Rs92,000 crore).
Instead it has favoured legal entitlement to only the ''priority group'', covering the rest to a varying extent depending on the availability of foodgrains, and through executive order.
According to the Rangarajan Committee report, which was made public today, the ''priority group'' comprises the below poverty line (BPL) population, plus an additional 10 per cent of the BPL numbers to accommodate those on the borderline.
This will work out to 46 per cent of rural and 28 per cent of the urban population - the same as the NAC figure for ''priority'' households.
The recommendation is quite similar to what a group of ministers headed by finance minister Pranab Mukerjee had said in early 2010.