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Updated: February 4, 2011 20:34 IST

Prime Minister and Sonia promise more reforms in MGNREGA

K. Balchand
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh looks on as NAC Chairperson Sonia Gandhi presents an award to a representative of a gram panchayat during the MNREGA Sammelan 2011 at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on Wednesday.
PTI
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh looks on as NAC Chairperson Sonia Gandhi presents an award to a representative of a gram panchayat during the MNREGA Sammelan 2011 at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on Wednesday.

‘MGNREGA will be used to bring in administrative reforms, using gram panchayats as a nodal agency'

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday promised to usher in more reforms in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and increase the number of days of job guaranteed to the Below Poverty Level households.

Speaking at a function celebrating the completion of the fifth year of MGNREGA, Dr. Singh promised to reform the delivery mechanism to reach the programme to the need, use of technology to stop corrupt practices, and bring it under the purview of Right to Information Act.

To change the mindset

Introduction of technology was necessary to change the mindset of the people in rural areas, Prime Minister stressed, and declared that a biometric database would be created for MGNREGA workers to register their presence and make payments. He hoped that this would address the problem of delayed payments. A demonstration of the hand set instrument was made at the function.

MGNREGA will also be used to bring in administrative reforms, the Prime Minister said, using the gram panchayats as a nodal agency. The people will be involved in developing micro plans, monitoring and auditing the works. The Prime Minister also emphasised that the capacity of the panchayats will be enhanced to shoulder more responsibilities.

‘ Stern action needed'

Taking note of the incidents of threats received by those undertaking social auditing jobs, the Prime Minister said that stern action needs to be taken, and added that comprehensive measures were being taken to strengthen this system.

The Prime Minister said that the effort was to provide productive employment to the rural youth to remove poverty.

Ms. Gandhi promised that NREGA will be used to put down problems of drought and floods and protect the environment. She however expressed concern over reports of NREGA money being diverted and misappropriated through fake job cards, muster rolls and works shown as executed only on paper, and delay in payment to the workers.

She also expressed her resentment that the grievance redressal mechanism was not shouldering their responsibilities and that the absence of proper amenities continued to discourage women's participation in the programme.

Ms. Gandhi also underlined the need for the Union government to help the States, besides suggesting strengthening the social audit system by empowering women and self help groups.

Union Minister for Rural Development Vilasrao Deshmukh said consultations had been held with the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, and discussions were underway with the States to evolve a better system of social auditing.

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