Job guarantee scheme helped villagers: PM

February 03, 2013 - 3:50:07 am

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday said his government’s flagship MGNREGA scheme had accelerated the pace of financial inclusion in villages while Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said it could usher in a second ‘Green Revolution’ but corruption in the scheme had to be checked.

Speaking at the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) anniversary function here, Manmohan Singh said that over 40m bank accounts have been opened after the implementation of the scheme, and many more have been started in post offices.

“These accounts will also help in the direct cash benefit transfer scheme,” the prime minister said.

Gandhi, also the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson, stressed the need to check complaints of corruption and misuse of money under MGNREGA.

Noting the scheme faces challenges of greater inclusion and creating durable assets, she said there was need to implement the scheme effectively in Maoist-affected areas and all steps should be taken to provide work under the scheme within 15 days of the demand having been made. 

She also called for timely social audit under the scheme. 

The prime minister, in his speech, asked the Rural Development Ministry to collaborate with states to provide technical assistance to panchayats. “It will help empower Panchayati Raj Institutions, improve participation of people in development process and allow proper formulation of labour budget under the local development plan,” he said. 

The prime minister said construction of anganwadis had been added to new works under MGNREGA approved last year. 

“If resources under ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme) and MGNREGA were used collectively, it will significantly improve services under ICDS,” he said. 

He said amended rules were being formally implemented from yesterday and stress had been laid on improving planning, increasing role of panchayats and improving quality of assets. 

Terming MGNERGA as the biggest poverty alleviation scheme in the world, the prime minister said over 80 million people had benefited and Rs 1 lakh crore had been spent on it. He said schemes such as MGNREGA reflect the stress being laid by the government on inclusive development. 

“More than half of the works have benefited the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and participation of women has been around 47 percent. Of the money going to women, more than eighty percent is going to their bank accounts,” the prime 

minister said. IANS