Ahead of the much talked about cut motion that the Opposition parties are planning to move on April 27 on the issue of price rise, the Lok Sabha witnessed a trial run on Thursday when an independent member moved a cut motion on the demands for the Ministry of Rural Development which was, however, defeated by voice vote.

Raju Shetti (lone member of the Swabhimani Paksha) pressed the cut motion even as the Opposition parties sought to force Rural Development Minister C.P. Joshi to commit himself to mitigate the problems being faced by the people in rural areas from the current spell of blistering heat wave. The Opposition parties were up in arms against the Minister as he kept mum on the issue.

Presiding officer Girija Vyas put the motion to vote which was defeated by voice vote with most of the Opposition benches remaining vacant. The Opposition, however, did not oppose the motion seeking the passage of the demands of the department for the current financial year which too was adopted by voice vote.

Replying to the debate on the demands for his Ministry, Dr. Joshi announced that his Ministry would formulate the methodology for preparing the below poverty line (BPL) list once it received the figures from the Planning Commission and would not leave it to the discretion of the States to arbitrarily prepare any list of their liking.

He said the criteria would be fixed and a pilot scheme would be undertaken to test its viability so as none of the deserving households from the SC, the ST and minorities were excluded from the list.

Funds for houses

Agreeing with the Opposition that the raised funds for construction of houses under the Indira Awas Yojna were not sufficient, Dr. Joshi declared that his Ministry would prepare a banking viable scheme to provide more money at much lower interest than what was being made available through banks and the permitted interest rate.

He expressed the hope that the Finance Ministry would approve the scheme. Currently, banks were giving a maximum of Rs. 20,000 to those BPL households willing to obtain a loan at a subsidised 4 per cent rate of interest.

On the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) , the Minister warned the States that they shoulder their responsibility in the proper implementation of the law. He pointed out that the Act gave the Centre the power to intervene by stopping sanction of funds, if needed.

The Minister expressed the hope that they would live up to the expectations of the world which had welcomed the initiative to bring about a change in the lifestyle of the rural households across the country.

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