Common work sheds for activities of SHGs also mooted
Through recent changes to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the Centre seems to have accommodated some of the long-standing suggestions by the State government, according to policy makers.
For quite some time, Tamil Nadu had been urging the Centre to amend the scheme to incorporate unskilled wage component in construction of houses sanctioned under the government scheme such as Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY); production of building material required for construction works under the scheme and maintenance of rural pubic assets created under the MGNREGS.
The establishment of common work sheds for livelihood activities of self-help groups (SHG) was another suggestion.
Talking of the implications of the changes, the policy makers point out that the inclusion of unskilled wage component in construction of houses would enable the authorities to cover greater number of beneficiaries under the IAY, as part of which about 88,440 houses have been proposed for construction this year. The State has another scheme – Chief Minister’s Solar Powered Green House Scheme (CMSPGHS) – under which 60,000 houses are being constructed every year .
Both the rural housing schemes have been designed to be beneficiary-driven with contribution of labour from the beneficiaries themselves.
With the MGNREGS taking care of the wage component, the provision of materials such as cement and steel has to be done. There will be no hassle on this count as the State government has been providing the materials under the existing two schemes.
Likewise, sanction for production of construction material, the officials will clear the way for hollow bricks to be manufactured locally in villages. This has the potential to bring down the cost of construction of houses in rural areas. Also, encouragement to livelihood activities of the SHGs would be of great help to these groups in the State which employ a large number of trained and skilled manpower. Besides, many of the groups have moved away from thrift to economic activity.
Apart from accommodating the State’s views, the officials point out that the inclusion of the clauses - “strengthening the livelihood resource of the poor and panchayati raj institutions” - in the core objectives of the scheme can create more opportunities for upward mobility of the rural poor, provided panchayat leaders are more imaginative and proactive.
Earlier too, these aspects were there but, this time, they have been given added emphasis, the policy makers add.