मंगलवार, 13 मई 2008

The Next Step for NREGA is Right to Work- Dr. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh

The Next Step for NREGA is Right to Work- Dr. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh


The Union Minister for Rural Development Dr. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has called upon the States to ensure an environment of “zero tolerance towards corruption” in the implementation of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA. Addressing media persons here today regarding the outcome of the two days long Performance Review Committee (PRC) meeting of the Department of Rural Development here today Dr. Singh urged the States to accord highest priority to NREGA as this scheme can change the face rural India. The next step for NREGA is right to work, the minister added.

The Minister reiterated that the five-pronged strategy of awareness generation,people’s participation, transparency, accountability and strict vigilance & monitoring must be followed by all the stake holders.Dr. singh advised the states to to ensure the optimal use of durable assets created in the process and said that Water Conservation works under NREGA should get top priority so that the country can meet the challenge of water scarcity. He cautioned states to take measures to protect the interest of farmers by way of identifying lean season and also to have reasonable minimum wage rates. He also asked all states to ensure that in 2008-09, every willing rural household gets 100 days of guaranteed work and it should be ensured that there is no migration of labors in distress.

Detailing the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), Dr. Singh said this act was initially launched in 200 selected districts and was extended to 130 more districts in 2007-08. It has now been extended to all other remaining districts from April, 2008 onwards. He said the Central releases during the year 2007-08 were Rs. 12353.22 crore under the programme. Against the total available funds of Rs. 19028.58 crore, the States have reported an expenditure of Rs. 15678.86 Crore. 3.37 crore households have been provided employment during the year 2007-08. A total of 142 crore person-days of employment were generated under the programme, of which 38.70 crore person-days of employment for SCs, 41.36 crore person-days for STs and 61.55 crore person-days for others. 60.39 crore person-days of employment were provided to women. Over 36 lakh families got full 100 days employment. A total of 17.76 lakh works were taken up during the year 2007-08 of which 8.05 lakh works were completed.

He said for transparency, the states have been asked to ensure payment of wages to workers through banks or post office accounts only. So far, over 1.6 crore accounts have been opened. This is the largest financial inclusion effort after independence. RBI has assured that all banks have been advised to take up account opening on a large scale for NREGA. With the view of enhancing banking expansion, all Regional Rural banks have been advised by RBI to open new bank branches. Officials from the Department of Posts have assured fullest co-operation and follow up to ensure opening of accounts to all NREGA beneficiaries. It was decided that RBI and DoP shall monitor financial inclusion efforts closely.

Dr. Singh said the states have to develop mechanisms to ensure timely verification of works, with 2% of the works to be verified at state level, 10% to be verified at district level and 100% at block level. So far over 1% of the works have been inspected by state officials, over 8% by district officials and over 70% by block officials. The most strict action against defaulters, he added. He said, the states have also been asked to effectively operationalise Gram Sabhas for selection of works & social audit. So far, social audit has been conducted in over 80,000 Gram Panchayats.

NREGA has strengthened rural development administration at the field level by way of additional recruitment of 1685 programme officers, over 80,000 Panchayat Rozgar Sewaks, over 6000 computer/account personnel and over 12000 Engineers for maintaining the highest standards of transparency. Accordingly, all states have to compulsorily operationalize the Management Information System (MIS). The flow of funds from mid-current year shall be based on reports of MIS. Assurance of full compliance with all guidelines of the scheme from all the states has been received and the results of implementation during 2007-08 are encouraging across the country and it is hoped that in 2008-09 the programme shall further stabilize and shall bring sustainable employment opportunities in rural areas. Dr. Singh said, his ministry has decided to promote IT applications for NREGA solutions. Some IT companies like HCL, Zero Mass foundation, FINO & IMFAST have made presentation of their products. Ministry has decided to study all possible options and to draw out their better features for improving upon NREGA and processes related to NREGA.

On the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), Dr. Singh said under the rural roads component of Bharat Nirman 20,861 habitations have been connected by constructing 59,091 km. rural roads and projects for connecting 17565 habitations are in progress. In addition, 83,888 km. of existing rural roads have been upgraded/renewed under the programme so far. An expenditure of Rs. 10,175.88 crore has been reported during the year 2007-08. An amount of Rs. 11000.02 Crore has been released to States/agencies during the year 2007-08, including Rs. 4500 Crore from RIDF window of NABARD.

He said under Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY), against the Central allocation of Rs. 4040 crore, Rs. 3882.37 crore was released during 2007-08. Out of the total available funds of Rs. 6626.88 crore, the States have reported an expenditure of Rs. 5366.50 crore. During the year 2007-08 19.49 lakh houses have been completed and allotted. Against the Central Allocation of Rs. 5645.77 Crore for the year 2008-09, Rs. 896.12 Crore has been released as 1st installment under IAY.

Under Swaranjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY), against the Central allocation of Rs. 1800 Crore, Rs. 1697 Crore was released during 2007-08. During 2007-08, 3,05,711 SHGs have been formed, 2,50,792 SHGs have passed Grade-I, 1,16,568 SHGs have passed Grade-II and 1,78,005 SHGs have taken up economic activities.

Dr. Singh said the Universal coverage of beneficiaries as per BPL list under the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) has been reviewed was reviewed. With 25 states identifying additional beneficiaries, coverage has gone up from 87 lakh in 2006-07 to 133 lakh in 2007-08.

The minister informed that the District Level Vigilance and Monitoring Committees have been constituted where the Members of Parliament are the Chairmen. In 2007-08, out of 601 Districts, 527 districts held 844 meetings of the District Vigilance & Monitoring Committees.

On the BPL Census 2002 he said the States/UTs, who have finalized the BPL Census, have been advised to put their data on the web-site and also ensure that these BPL lists are printed and circulated. The States have been asked to ensure that the Permanent IAY wait lists are prepared and painted on the walls of Block office, Panchayat Ghar and other places. It was also informed that for detailed information the website of the Ministry may be visited. The addresses of the websites are: www.rural.nic.in, www.drd.nic.in, http://ddws.nic.in/, http://dolr.nic.in/, and http://nrega.nic.in/.

Earlier, the two-day Performance Review Committee meeting of the Department of Rural Development concluded in New Delhi today. The PRC meeting, which was chaired by the Minister for Rural Development, Dr. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, is the most important element in the various monitoring tools used by the Ministry to ensure proper implementation and transparency of its programmes. Shri BN Yugandhar, Member, Planning Commission, also participated. The meeting was also attended by officers from RBI and Department of Posts. In the PRC meeting, the Secretary (Rural Development), Smt. Rita Sharma reviewed all the programmes, with participation from Rural Development Secretaries of State Governments. The National Social Assistance Programme, NSAP was also reviewed with participation from Social Welfare Secretaries of State Governments. Besides review, appropriate execution strategies are also evolved for forthcoming months. Along with the PRC, the National Workshop on Computerization of IGNOAPS was also held.

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