Joshi bats for Sarpanchs

Rural Development Minister persists with in-house auditing of NREGS projects, keeps out NGOs

shivani

Shivani Chaturvedi | January 25, 2010




In an exclusive interview with Governance Now's Shivani Chaturvedi, Union Minister for Rural Development Dr C P Joshi talks about his efforts to make  the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) more effective. Strangely, he is persisting with a system that makes sarpanchs both the judge and the jury. The sarpanchs are the ones who get the NREGA projects executed in the first place and yet, they are the ones who alone can carry out social audit. Excerpts from the interview:

Q: What steps are being taken to improve rural economy so that migration from villages to cities stops?

Ans: The schemes are there to eliminate poverty. We have Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) which tries to bring the assisted poor families (swarozgaries) above the poverty line by ensuring appreciable sustained level of income over a period of time. Just a small part of the economy is dealt with by my department.

Q: Even the NREG scheme aims at reducing flow of people from rural to urban areas. How far has this been achieved?

Ans:Feedback is different from different states. Empirically, it has reduced migration as under the scheme people are getting work at their own place. But inference can best be drawn through scientific methods.
Delay in wage payment to beneficiaries is defeating the purpose of NREGS. Are there any plans to strengthen the payment system?
There will be business correspondents to pay wages under NREGS. The correspondents will work as bank agents and make payment on the basis of data recorded in specially designed machine that works on biometric technology. Entire details about the beneficiaries will be recorded in this handy machine. This initiative is expected to help improve wage payment system.

Q: NREGS is primarily a programme aimed at creating public assets that would be useful for the society at large. The principle was relaxed by allowing projects in private lands of selected marginalised communities including SCs and STs. Now this is being extended by permitting works in private lands owned by small and marginal farmers who are not SCs and STs. Why?

Ans:This provision was already there. Among the BPL families there are large numbers of marginal farmers. Because BPL selection was always questionable we have just put an umbrella under which all will be covered.

Q: NREGS paid rich dividend to the UPA in the last general election. Yet, there are restrictions on its social audit by independent agencies/NGOs and only gram sabhas are allowed to do it. Why so?
Ans: Social audit is to be conducted only by sarpanchas. There is no provision for NGOs to carry out social audit except in Andra Pradesh where they have directorate of social audit.

Q: Panchayati Raj institutions intend to play an important role in planning and executing NREGS. What is being done to ensure more flexibility at Panchayat level?

Ans:There is lack of capacity at the Panchayat level. They can identify the activities but cannot do the technical work. For that they can employ technical persons like junior engineers as per the provision in the Act. At some places this is being done.

Q: Is there any effective grievance redressal system for beneficiaries of NREGS?
Ans:
Yes, appointment of ombudsman has been done to redress grievances related to NREGS. This system has been introduced in 2009-10 and each state has been asked to do so. There are 619 districts where NREGS has been implemented. East district will have one ombudsman. There is a committee comprising state chief secretary, state rural development secretary, official nominated by the Government of India and civil society persons nominated by the government who will monitor the system. In addition to this, MPs have been asked to monitor rural development schemes in the districts. The state governments are required to have their own redressal system too. And the biggest tool is the Right to Information Act (RTI).

Q: Are there any plans to create projects exclusively for disabled?
Ans: In some states initiatives have been taken to bring such projects. We are asking other states to work in this direction.







 





 

 

Comments

 

Other News

Many roles of civil society during pandemic

The union government enforced a nationwide lockdown on March 25, 2020 to curb the spread of coronavirus as it was causing large-scale infection and disease. Challenges of pandemic management and levels of distress were revealed during this time. The fear of Covid spread like wildfire and a

Thackeray launches three fast-track DNA units under Nirbhaya scheme

Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has launched three state-of-the-art human DNA units under the Nirbhaya Scheme for efficiency in criminal investigations. A wildlife DNA unit in Nagpur makes Maharashtra the country’s first state to have a forensic testing lab for animals.  

How foreign policy has been Modi’s focus right from the start

The Midway Battle: Modi’s Roller-coaster Second Term By Gautam Chintamani Bloomsbury / 400 pages / Rs 699 Gautam Chintamani, a film historian and author, has penned an in-depth chronicle of prime minister Narendra Modi’s second

Remove unauthorized constructions without pressure: Thackeray to BMC

Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has instructed the Mumbai civic authorities to take immediate action on unauthorized constructions on war footing. In a virtual meeting held on Wednesday, Thackeray said no illegal construction will be tolerated in Mumbai and called upon the BMC to

Covid norms relaxed; Mumbai restaurants, shops to remain open longer

After extending timings of shops and restaurants as well as the reopening of cinema halls and theatres under specified SOPs from October 22, in view of the festive cheer, the Maharashtra government has allowed restaurants and eateries to remain open till 12AM and shops and establishments to function till 1

Global Hunger Index data collection flawed: Arvind Panagariya

Rubbishing the recently released Global Hunger Index 2021, wherein India has slipped to 101 position to be placed below Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, Arvind Panagariya, professor of economics at Columbia University and former vice chairman, NITI Aayog, has said that data collection and methodologies used

Visionary Talk with Dr Arvind Panagariya, Professor, Columbia University & Former VC, NITI Aayog



Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter