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Monday, January 3, 2011

MGNREGA provided employment to nearly 4 crore people in 2010

Nearing the four crore mark in providing jobs under MGNREGA, re-launching the Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas scheme and reinforcing social audit in programmes on complaints of irregularities were the foremost tasks of the rural development ministry in 2010.
While 3.9 crore households were provided employment, the share of women beneficiaries under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act went up to 51 per cent, with over 69.14 crore beneficiaries.
The MoRD's functioning witnessed a revived zest in February after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh admitted there were some "lapses" in the flagship job guarantee scheme's implementation, including the problem of payment of wages to workers.
Even though there were reports that states like Rajasthan failed to check distress migration as minimum 100 days of employment assured under the Act was not provided to all workers, the scheme did manage to add 51 crore beneficiaries from Scheduled Castes and 23.36 crore from Scheduled Tribes.
In its maiden attempt to deliver amenities in rural areas, the MoRD re-launched the PURA scheme under a public-private partnership model with support from Department of Economic Affairs and technical assistance from Asian Development Bank.
Corporates that take up works under PURA are tasked with improving infrastructure for water and sewerage, maintenance of village streets, skill development apart from adding people-centric initiatives such as village linked tourism, integrated rural hub (market), agri-common centres and warehousing.
Instances of alleged irregularities from certain states prompted the ministry to strengthen social audit in the programmes and consider appointment of an Ombudsman for effective grievance redressal in each district.
Apart from the ministry's internal mechanism to check graft there were instances in which the judiciary, including the Supreme Court, intervened and told authorities to probe allegations ranging from alleged embezzlement of funds to diversion of money from the target population.
Putting the Orissa government in the dock, the Supreme Court on December 16 asked for a thorough investigation into utilisation of NREGA funds by the state and asked why the probe into it be not entrusted to CBI.

Livid at the allegation of diversion of funds sent by the Centre to states for NREGA-mandated schemes, the apex court had warned to make an example out of Orissa to force other defaulting states to fall in line.

Certain deputy commissioners and panchayat members in Himachal Pradesh are under scrutiny following allegations of alleged embezzlement committed by the office bearers of panchayats in the state under MNREGA funds.

Thirty seven national level monitors were deputed to as many districts in 15 states for special monitoring of the social audit campaign.

Inching closer to realising the 2012 target of connecting by all weather roads most of the habitations in hilly and tribal areas, about 6,467.08 km of road length was constructed in 2010 out of the targeted 14,320 km.

With lack of infrastructure, basic amenities and neglect emerging as one of the main reasons behind the rise of Naxalism in certain states, the ministry made 35 Left-wing extremism affected districts eligible for a higher rate of unit assistance of Rs 48,500 from 2011.
As part of the UPA's poverty alleviation target set for 2014, the ministry is re-christening the Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana as National Rural Livelihood Mission. Accordingly, a target has been fixed to enrol 50 per cent of rural women in self-help groups over the next five years.

Through the Lenses !

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