Four thousand village panchayats and 120 panchayat unions would have service centres this year under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Municipal Administration and Rural Development Minister K.P. Munusamy told the Assembly on Tuesday.

A total sum of Rs. 430 crore would be earmarked. Eventually, there would be service centres in all 12,524 village panchayats and 385 panchayat unions. The proposed centres, which would spread awareness on the MGNREGS, would also function as executing agencies at the levels of village panchayats and panchayat unions for the Total Sanitation Scheme [now renamed as Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan] and Tamil Nadu State Rural Livelihoods Mission (TNSRLM), the Minister said, wrapping up the debate on the demands for grants of his departments.

As part of the government’s drive to make the State free of open defecation by 2015, awareness activities would be carried out on a massive scale.

New panchayat unions

On the direction of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, 35 village panchayats and four panchayat unions in the district of The Nilgiris would be restructured as 95 village panchayats and six panchayat unions. The Minister also announced the creation of four panchayat unions – Sikkal in Ramanathapuram district; Srimushnam in Cuddalore and Anjetti and Pochampalli in Krishnagiri.

A high-level committee would be set up to examine the possibility of streamlining village panchayats on the basis of population, income and proximity to urban areas and providing more facilities and officials.

Yercaud

From the current financial year, a sum of Rs. 75 lakh would be given annually to the Yercaud panchayat union. Water pumping stations and a reverse osmosis plant would be established in Tuticorin at a cost of Rs. one crore.

Job fairs

This year, 100 job fairs would be conducted under the TNSRLM at a rate of three fairs in each district. An amount of Rs. 25 lakh had been provided for. Under Pudhu Vaazhvu [a poverty elimination project following community-driven development approach], representatives of youth would be chosen through 4,170 village poverty reduction committees in 26 districts to function as guides for the youth. They would not only provide information on employment opportunities but also conduct training programmes on pernicious habits such as drug abuse, alcoholism and smoking. Awareness programmes would be carried out at a cost of Rs. 2.25 crore, covering 1.5 lakh youngsters.

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