Thursday, March 20, 2008


The Union Minister for Rural Development Dr. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has said that transparency and accountability are a must in the implementation process of rural development prgrammes. Addressing the inaugural session of 8th Annual Editors Conference on Social Sector Issues here today the minister said that the primary concern of Government towards improving the quality of life of the people is reflected in the launch of various schemes of his ministry . Dr. Singh said a five pronged strategy to ensure effective implementation of its programmes in transparent manner by ensuring people’s participation and accountability has been adopted in this regard. The five points include Awareness Generation; Transparency; People’s participation; Accountability; and Vigilance and Monitoring.The minister reiterated that in order to provide Guaranteed 100 Days Employment, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), 2005 was notified on 7th September 2005 and launched on 2nd February 2006 in 200 identified districts in 27 States in its first phase of implementation and 130 additional districts in 2007-08. All the districts of the country would be covered w. e. f. 1st April 2008. On the reported shortcoming in the implementation part of Dr. Singh said it is the duty of State Governments to enact NREGA in letter and spirit and it should have to be ensured that utmost transparency be adopted during the entire process. Considering the importance of providing a dwelling unit to a shelter less rural BPL families, Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) has been included as one of the six components of ‘Bharat Nirman’. Under Bharat Nirman, 60 lakh IAY houses are envisaged to be constructed during a period of four years from 2005-06 to 2008-09. During the first two years i.e. 2005-07, 30.36 lakh houses have already been constructed. The Central outlay has been further increased by 39 per cent to Rs 4040 crore for the third year i .e 2007-08 to construct 21.27 lakh houses as against 15.33 lakh IAY houses during 2006-07. The likely achievement during four years i.e. 2005-09 is likely to be over 70 lakh as against the target 60 lakhs, The Minister added.Dr. Singh said, Rural Roads being one of the six components of the Bharat Nirman, Construction of rural roads is a part of the process of augmenting and modernizing of all weather pacca rural road infrastructure and the Ministry is implementing a Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). Under rural roads component of Bharat Nirman, it is targeted to connect 66802 habitations by constructing 1.46 lakh km. rural roads. In addition, the programme envisages upgradation of 1.94 lakh km. of existing rural roads to provide full farm to market connectivity. Up to November, 2007, 16878 habitations have been connected by constructing 49713 km. rural roads and projects for connecting 21973 habitations are in progress. In addition, 64253 km. of existing rural roads have been upgraded/renewed under the programme. Drinking Water Supply is one of the six components of Bharat Nirman, which has been conceived as a Business Plan to improve rural infrastructure on priority basis in four years from 2005-06 to 2008-09 to provide safe drinking water in 55,067 uncovered habitations and all slipped back habitations. The budgetary allocation of funds for the Rural Drinking Water sector which was Rs 2900 crore during the years 2004 -05 , increased to Rs.4560 crore in 2006-07. In 2005-06, 97215 habitation and in 2006-07, 93,265 habitations were covered with drinking water supply schemes. A National Rural Drinking Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Programme was launched in February, 2006. Sub-Mission on water quality was revived in 2006 to provide focused funding to tackle the problems. Source sustainability is the priority for drinking water supply system, the minister added. Sanitation and Sewage Treatment in rural areas are given highest priority. From 2004-05, the budget for sanitation increased by almost 250% to Rs.400 crore and in the subsequent years, 2005-06 and 2006-07 to Rs.700 crore and Rs.800 crore respectively. Solid and liquid waste management was introduced in 2006 in TSC. Nirmal Gram Puraskar (NGP) was initiated in 2005 to award all these Gram Panchayats, Blocks and Districts that have attained full sanitation coverage and eliminated the practice of open defecation completely, provided water supply and toilet facilities in all schools, Anganwadis and maintained general cleanliness. In May, 2007, President of India awarded Nirmal Gram Puraskar to 4945 Gram Panchayats and 14 Block Panchayats from 22 States as against 760 Gram Panchayat and 9 Block Panchayats from 14 States in 2006. Dr. Singh said the milestone of providing toilet facilities to one crore households during 2006-07 have been achieved. The programmes Under Indira Awaas Yojana, houses are mainly allotted in the name of a woman beneficiary or in the joint name of husband and wife, which gives necessary thrust to women empowerment. During 2006-07 about 48.64% houses were allotted only in the mane of women and another 19.21 % in joint name of husband and wife. Similarly, the SGSY guideline provides that 50% of Self Help Groups formed and 40% of swarozgaries assisted should be women and targets are achieved invariably. The Minister reiteriated that Under NREGA, efforts are made and environment is created so that at least 1/3rd of wage seekers are women and actual achievement during 2006-07 have been about 37% of total person days of employment generated under NREGA. Supply of Drinking Water and Total Sanitation Campaign are other boon to women. To ensure adequate flow of funds for the women and children as envisaged in the NCMP, the Ministry of Rural Development has already initiated steps in this regard under different Programmes. It is ensured that programmes provide benefits to women. Some schemes like DWS, TSC, IAY and SGSY etc. have been primarily designed for benefiting of rural women. Dr. Singh said that a Gender Budgeting Cell has been set up in the Ministry to monitor all issues relating to women. The Cell also coordinates with all other Central Ministries and external agencies on similar issues. On release and dispatch of funds by his Ministry, Dr. Singh said the system regarding it has been streamlined . Steps have already been taken steps to minimize the time gap in the transfer of funds to the Panchayats for implementation of poverty alleviation programmes. Funds for the main schemes are released in two installments to States / implementing agencies except in NREGA. The first Installment is released suo motto; without any request from the State / agency, if the 2nd installment during the last year had been released without any condition. To ensure proper utilization of funds during the last year as well as current year and these are not diverted for other purposes, number of conditions have been laid down for becoming eligible for release of 2nd installment and these are strictly monitored and followed. Money/funds is transferred to the implementing agencies immediately through electronic media. A comprehensive system of monitoring of progress of implementation and utilization of funds have been put in operation to checks instances of diversion of funds or mis-utilization etc.As regards convergence of various Watershed Development and other related Programmes being implemented by different Ministries, Dr. Singh said a National Rain-fed Area Authority (NRAA) has been constituted under the aegis of Ministry of Agriculture to bring watershed programmes implemented by different Ministries under one umbrella. It has been decided to have a single Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) from 2007-08 by merging IWDP, DPAP and DDP. The consolidation will be for the purpose of convergence between the three programmes for the sake of integrated planning and optimum use of resources. An allocation of Rs.1201.00 crore, which includes Rs.86.46 crore for externally aided is made in the year 2007-08. Under NREGA also, first priority is given to works relating to water conservation, drought proofing and soil conservation etc. Efforts are being made to achieve convergence of NREGA works with all Area Development Programmes.In order to solve issues arising out of policies of economic liberalization / de-regularization, the National Policy on Rehabilitation and Resettlement - 2003 have been reviewed and revised. The revised National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy – 2007 has come into force from Oct. 2007. The policy provides for basic minimum requirements and principles to be fulfilled in all the projects leading to involuntary displacement. The principles of the policy will also be applicable for involuntary permanent displacement due to any other reasons. In order to give statuary backing to the policy, Bills, namely ‘Rehabilitation and Settlement Bill - 2007’ and ‘Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill- 2007’ have been introduced in the Lok Sabha during its Winter Session – 2007, the minister added. He said, the recommendations of Committee of Secretaries on Modernization of Revenue Administration for the establishment of clear land titles were taken into consideration in formulating the modified scheme by integrating the survey and settlement, computerization of land records and registration processes. The scope of the scheme has been expanded and it has been decided now to formulate and implement a revamped new scheme of National Land Resource Management Programme (NLRMP) from the year 2007-08. This will subsume the two schemes of CLR and SRA & ULR. The NLRMP will include computerization of land records, survey, wherever required, updating of land records by carrying out a drive to complete pending mutations, computerization of registration of immovable property transactions, inter-linking of registration and land record management processes, with the long-term goal of moving to clear title system. Also, three layers of data , a) High resolution satellite imaginary/aerial photography, b) Survey of India and Forest Survey of India maps, and c) Revenue records and cadastral maps, will be integrated on a GIS platform to facilitate citizen services and a comprehensive tool for development planning.Regarding the self –employment programmes Dr. Singh said his ministry is implementing credit linked self-employment programme of Swaranjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY). The strategy under the programme is to organize the rural poor into Self Help Groups and provide them assistance for taking up economic activities so that they are able to cross the poverty line. The Central allocation for the programme which was Rs.710 crore in 2002-03 was increased to Rs.1200 crore during 2006-07 and for 2007-08 it has been further stepped up to Rs.1800 crore. During the 10th Five Year Plan, 15.93 lakh Self Help Groups have been formed. An amount of Rs. 8241.78 crore was disbursed as credit for the swarozgaris of the programme. In order to further boost credit availability to rural areas, a ‘Micro - Finance Bill’ has been formulated which is under active consideration of the Government. The three days conference is expected to evolve a better understanding of Rural Development issues and generate a sense of social responsibility on the part of media persons to make the masses aware of the Government initiatives for the betterment of its rural folks.****SMK/ST/JA

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