The government has reiterated that it will implement the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) in a phased manner to ensure targeted and time-bound delivery of results.

Recently, in a reply to a question posed in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Rural Development Pradeep Jain had said that it was the NRLM’s mandate to guarantee that at least one member from each identified rural poor household, preferably a woman, be brought under the Self Help Group (SHG) network in a time-bound manner, the ultimate target being full coverage of BPL families.

Mr. Jain noted that the provisions in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) were effected through schemes formulated by States under Section 4(1) of the Act.

“Schedule-I of MGNREGA, as amended from time to time, lists the category of works that any Scheme prepared by a State Government under Section 4(1) of the MGNREGA shall focus upon,” he said.

Additionally, creation of durable assets and strengthening of the livelihood resource base remains an important objective of the Act. “Based on the suggestions and feedback received from various stakeholders, including State governments, changes and modifications to the Schedule and guidelines are carried out from time to time and this is a continuous process,” said Mr. Jain.

“As per the information provided by the States, out of 42,76,911 SHGs formed in the country, [as many as] 28,36,677 SHGs are [for] women. Under the NRLM, the target group is BPL households,” he said.

Just last week, the Union Cabinet had approved key changes to the NRLM to eradicate poverty in villages by empowering women. Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh announced that over 25 lakh women SHGs would be provided bank loans at an interest rate of seven per cent.

Mr. Jain said a proposal had already been moved for finalising the target group based on the Participatory Identification of Poor process (PIP). Additionally, in order to improve targeting, the Cabinet agreed to do away with the BPL (below poverty line) category in the NRLM instead of identifying target groups through the PIP process, at the community level.

The NRLM, a flagship programme of the UPA government, aims at creating efficient and effective institutional platforms for the rural poor to enable them to increase household income through sustainable livelihood enhancements and improved access to financial services.