MNREGA: Centre to ensure uninterrupted flow of funds to states

NEW DELHI :  Allaying apprehensions of the state governments, the Centre today said it is committed to strengthening MNREGA and is taking all steps to ensure uninterrupted flow of funds for the implementation of the improvised version of the rural job scheme.
Noting that MNREGA helped arrest distress migration of people from rural areas to urban centres, Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh said he will request the Finance Ministry for more funds for implementation of the improved version of the scheme in which skill development is a major component.
Addressing the 10th Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) Divas here, the Minister said, “We are talking about creation of quality assets and physical infrastructure but why don’t we have human assets under MNREGA?”
Singh said the government did not want to keep MNREGA workers unskilled labourers forever and efforts would be made to turn them into skilled ones.
“If 30 youngsters of a village are to be trained to become physically fit for joining Armed forces, and if such a training is given by a retired security personnel for two months, why they should not be treated at the same footing as MNREGA workers’ training?,” he asked.
“He (the trainer) is creating that quality asset, which is a human asset,” the Minister said, emphasising the need for infusing skill componenent in MNREGA enacted for providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household.
Singh said, “If we want to stop distress migration from villages, we will have to take such kind of steps.”
Responding to some states about about delay in release of funds, the Minister hinted that in most cases, states were to blame more than the Centre as they did not follow procedures like sending audit reports while seeking money from the central government.
He also indicated that unspent money from one state will be sent to another state, which is in need of funds, because MNREGA is a demand-driven programme.
Singh said the Ministry has decided to focus intensely on convergence of MNREGA with other schemes to create durable and useful assets.
It has introduced a new module to capture planning and implementation of convergence initiatives.
“21 states have prepared their convergence plans already. Convergence has been closely linked to measuring outcomes of works and their impact on the rural economy,” the Minister said.
He said the objective is to use MNREGA for livelihood- based sustainable development.
Singh emphasised that MNREGA has provided employment to crores of households every year and has become an important vehicle for enhancing the livelihoods of rural poor and strengthening the rural natural resource base.
Over the last year, the Ministry has streamlined the scheme to make it more relevant to the local needs and demands of the beneficiaries with greater focus on backward areas.
The Ministry also purposes to undertake skilling and entrepreneurship of MNREGA workers and their family members in convergence with National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM0, he said.
The Rural Development Minister also stressed on the recent initiatives taken by the Ministry to address issues around transparency and accountability in MNREGA.
For instance, some forward looking IT-based initiatives like universalisation of eFMS, notification of MNREGA under Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) and mobile monitoring systems to have been introduced. The social audit systems have also been strengthened.
Singh said that MNREGA is also supporting the other flagship programmes like Swachh Bharat Mission through the construction of toilets.
As a part of Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) to achieve the goal of a clean India by 2019, MNREGA has been aligned with this initiative whereby nearly two crore toilets will be constructed during the next five years.
States have also been requested to bring the existing MNREGA workers with bank accounts under Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana and to open bank accounts for new workers under this Yojana.
Singh expressed the hope that the current initiatives will address some of the concerns around MNREGA in a definite manner and contribute significantly to the more efficient implementation of the scheme. (AGENCIES)

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