Project Directors of DRDAs to Constantly Endeavour to be Sensitive to the Livelihood Concerns of the People and Strive hard to Provide them a Decent Standard of Living

EQUALITY  INDIA NEWS / A SHAKTI VAHINI RESEARCH INITIATIVE

The Union Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj  has called upon the Project Directors of DRDAs to constantly endeavour to be sensitive to the livelihood concerns of the people and strive hard to provide them a decent standard of living. Inaugurating a two day National Conference of Project Directors of DRDAs organized by the Ministry of Rural Development in New Delhi today he said the rights of the vulnerable group must be protected with passion and commitment.

“I am happy to inaugurate this conference. Conference of the Project Directors of District Rural Development Agencies provide an opportunity to review the progress of various rural development schemes of Ministry of Rural Development. It also enables the participant to learn the best practices adopted by the implementing agencies under various schemes. DRDAs play a critical role in the implementation of rural development programmes at district level. As such the congregation of Project Directors from all parts of the country in the National Conference of Project Directors provide a very important forum to discuss the important issues relating to the implementation of rural development programmes and also to learn important lessons by sharing the experience of each other with regard to implementation of the rural development programmes.

 India has made significant progress in poverty reduction since independence, but still an unacceptably high number of people are living below the poverty line in rural areas. The key challenge, therefore, is to ensure inclusive growth that leads to significant rural poverty reduction. Unless the fruits of this economic growth does not reach the rural areas of our country and particularly touch the lives of millions of poverty stricken people living there, this saga of growth will be reduced to a mere semantic.

Over the years there have been constant efforts to learn from implementation experience and bring suitable improvements and modifications in our policies yet the programmes have only met with random success in rural pockets.  The challenge, therefore, is to develop and run a transparent and efficient delivery system and this is one important issue on which I would like this assembly to debate on and suggest solutions.

 This Conference should also discuss ways of ensuring full involvement of Panchayati Raj Institutions, NGOs, Civil Society Organisations, private and public partners for the improvement of the economic status of our rural poor.   You must constantly endeavour to be sensitive to the livelihood concerns of the people and strive hard to provide them a decent standard of living.  The rights of the vulnerable group must be protected with passion and commitment.

Another major challenge before us is to effect convergences among various programmes of Rural Development and other social sector programmes like health, literacy etc. due to their obvious complementarities. A lot of thought and initiative is going at the Government of India level in this direction but the main convergence can only be brought about at the DRDA level.  The DRDAs, in fact, have been mandated to perform this function right from their inception.  What is required is the will and proper planning to bring about the convergence.

The Ministry is implementing many programmes for ensuring reduction in rural poverty and a better quality of life in rural areas.  The Government has put in place a framework of policies and programs, which seek to bring a holistic development of rural India through several flagship programs including the massive Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.  The Mahatma Gandhi NREGA is one of the flagship programme of the Government that directly touches lives of the poor and promotes inclusive growth.  The objective of the Act is to provide for the livelihood security of the households in the rural areas of the country.  This has been acclaimed as the world’s biggest wage employment programme and has provided a lot of succour to the absolute poor.  Since its launch on February 2, 2006, Mahatma Gandhi NREGA has generated 990 crore persondays, out of which 50% are women persondays. Persondays among SCs and STs is 52%. We have been able to effect financial inclusion by opening 10 crore accounts of the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA workers.

Despite the significant progress made under Mahatma Gandhi NREGA there are still many challenges such as

(a)     Creation of quality assets.

(b)   Constant monitoring and training for field functionaries and adequate supervision to create sustainable and durable assets.

(c)    Numbers of complaints are increasing; Social Audit has to be enforced.  Ministry has issued a draft Audit rules, 2011.

(d)   Participatory planning at Gram Panchayat level and conduct of effective gram sabha.

(e)    Dedicated manpower at Gram Panchayats in form of Panchayat Development Officer and Junior Engineer States can follow their own rules for recruitment but the process should be transparent.   The consolidated remuneration for PDO and Junior Engineer will be Rs. 12,000/- and Rs. 10,000/- respectively.     States can pay more at their own cost.

(f)    Dissemination of best practices like social audit, mobile banking, convergence for sustainable development, help line etc.

(g)    Timely wage payment; Payment cycle of 15 days should be followed.   Appropriate structure be created for timely close of muster, MB recoding, issue of Payment orders, business correspondent could used effectively engaged.

(h)   Category IV works namely works on the land of SC/ST/BPL/IAY beneficiaries and small marginal farmers should be taken on priority.

As you are aware that CBI inquiry is initiated in some states regarding the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA works. I request you to be utmost careful in implementing this.  I will name districts like Barmer, Tirunamalai who have done excellent work in this scheme. The Ministry is working in overcoming the problems faced in the implementation of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA and I’m sure that we will be able to achieve the desired results.

In order to provide a holistic livelihood opportunity to the poor, Government has focused on both ‘wage employment’ and on ‘self-employment’. While the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA scheme focuses on ‘wage employment’, Swarnajayanti Grameen Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY) focuses on self-employment.  As you know the Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) is being implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development since April 1999.  The scheme aims to bring the assisted rural poor families (Swarozgaris) above the poverty line by providing them income generating assets through a mix of bank credit and government subsidy. Since inception of the programme about 41 lakh SHGs have been formed (after attrition there are 25 lakh SHGs of rural BPL) and 163 lakh swarozgaris have been assisted with bank credit & subsidy. During 2010-11 3.1 lakh SHGs formed and 21 lakh swarozgaris assisted with bank credit & subsidy. An amount of Rs. 4585 crore credit was mobilised during 2010-11 under SGSY and per capita investment was Rs.31300.

During the course of implementation, various studies on the scheme pressed the need for restructuring of the SGSY scheme. Keeping all the lessons from SGSY and inputs provided by various studies in mind, my Ministry has restructured the SGSY as the National Rural Livelihoods Programme (NRLM). NRLM is based on large scale successes in states such as Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. There social mobilization and building strong institutions of the poor have led to significant reduction in poverty and empowerment of the poor.

The objective of the Mission is to reach out to all the 7 crore rural BPL households in a time-bound manner to capacitate them to enhance their incomes on a sustainable basis to bring them out of poverty and ensure quality life for all. NRLM will attempt to bring all the rural BPL households under the SHG net by ensuring that at least one member of each household, preferably a woman member, is made a part of an SHG. We are planning for BPL survey and supervise it thoroughly and bring genuine people in the BPL list.

NRLM will seek to further empower the SHGs by federating them at higher levels like the village level, cluster level, block level and district level. The role of Banks will be of prime importance under NRLM as a source of credit for the poor at reasonable rates.  NRLM will focus on getting banks to lend to the poor by making them bankable clients through smart use of subsidy.

The second focus of NRLM would be rural youth of the country who are unemployed.  They will be supported through placement linked skill development projects through which their skills will be upgraded through short term training courses in sectors which have high demand for services. The mandate is to cover 1 crore rural unemployed youth by 2017.

 The Ministry has also started a scheme i.e Mahila Kisan Shashaktikaran Pariyojan under NRLM for providing the agriculture based livelihood to women farmers. The primary objective of the MKSP is to empower women in agriculture by strengthening community  institutions of poor women farmers and leverage their strength to promote sustainable agriculture.

 Access to livelihood alone can’t ensure a dignified life to the poor. Shelter is a basic need of an individual which is critical for determining the quality of human life.  A roof over the head endows a shelter less person with an essential asset and improves his physical and mental well being.  Hence, fulfilling the need for rural housing and tackling housing shortage particularly for the poorest is an important task to be undertaken as part of the poverty alleviation efforts of the government. The Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) is a flagship scheme of my Ministry to provide houses to below the poverty line (BPL) families in the rural areas.

                Now we will start BPL survey soon. I request you to see that it will be conducted sincerely and with proper supervision so that no genuine person will be left out of BPL list.

Provision of a decent facility for shelter is incomplete without proper sanitation facility. Keeping this in mind, my Ministry is also implementing Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) scheme which aims at improving the quality of life in rural areas by accelerating the sanitation coverage and generating demand through awareness, health education covering all schools and anganwadis. The thrust is on construction of household latrines, coverage of rural schools, solid waste management and provision of revolving fund to organizations that coordinate the activities. Recently my Ministry has enhanced the quantum of assistance for Individual House hold latrines room from Rs. 2200/- to Rs. 3200/- (3700/- for Hilly and Difficult Areas). Similarly the assistance for school toilet unit has been increased from Rs. 20000/- to Rs. 35000/- (38500/- for Hilly and Difficult Areas).  I’m happy to inform that assistance for Anganwadi Toilet has also been increased from Rs. 5000/- to Rs. 8000/- (10000/-) for Hilly and Difficult Areas).

These initiatives have been possible because of the proactive role played by you and your team in DRDAs spread all over the country.    We however, do not have any room for complacency in the coming years and we need to work harder to ensure that our endeavour of improving the lives of rural poor gather the right momentum in a prospering Indian economy”.

 Earlier welcoming the Minister the Secretary Rural Development Shri B.K. Sinha  said the challenge is to develop and run a transparent and efficient delivery system and ensure inclusive growth that leads to significant rural poverty reduction.

 The two day conference is being attended by the Project Directors from across the country and the senior officers from the Ministry of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.

 The following major programmes of Ministry of Rural Development  will be discussed in detail in the  two days conference:

 Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

Rural Housing

Integrated Watershed Management  Programme

Total Sanitation Campaign(TSC)

 The issues relating to DRDA Administration scheme, Monitoring & Evaluation of rural development programmes , training, finance and accounts will also be discussed.

District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) is the principal organ at the District level to manage and oversee the implementation of different anti-poverty programmes of the Ministry of Rural Development. The Project Directors who are incharge of the DRDAs have to carry out the noble task of ensuring that the benefits of these programmes are availed by the rural masses. A high degree of professionalism and dedication is expected from the Project Directors for handling this task.

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