New Delhi: A parliamentary panel has sought removal of confusion in the definition of the word 'household' under Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to ensure the term is not "misinterpreted" to give employment to only male heads of families.

In its report on MGNREGA and empowerment of women in rural areas, the committee also asked for an inter-state comparison-based study to evaluate the participation of women under the scheme.

The parliamentary panel noted that as per the operational guidelines of MGNREGA, 'household' meant "a nuclear family comprising the mother, the father and their children and may include any person wholly or substantially dependent on the head of the family."

The committee said "there is still a lot of confusion about the definition of this critical term as reports of denial of registration to the joint families and handicaps by the gram panchayats of many villages are still coming."

The panel said the provision of work to one person of the family under MGNREGA was being misinterpreted to suit the male head of the household.

The panel said the definition of the term household should be clearly structured as "twist in the interpretations" by vested interests "will continue in the same fashion denying a large chunk of genuine employment-demanding population from their legal right of livelihood."

The committee's report also noted that participation of women under the scheme was high in certain states but abysmally low in others.

"When states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu register 90.39 percent and 82.59 percent women's participation in MGNREGA, Uttar Pradesh shows just 21.42 percent, Assam 26.51 percent and Bihar 28.49 percent," the report said.


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