‘Extend rural job scheme to urban areas’

March 15th, 2012 - 5:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee New Delhi, March 15 (IANS) Calling for effective measures to improve the efficiency of social sector programmes, the Economic Survey for 2011-12 has suggested extending the government’s ambitious rural jobs scheme to urban areas, strengthening panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) and skill improvement for enhanced employability.

The survey, which was presented by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in parliament Thursday, said that programmes like Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) have been instrumental in creating employment opportunities and placing additional income in the hands of the poor.

It said that additional income for the rural poor had contributed to demand for consumer durables and non-durables to sustain the supply side, though at higher food inflation.

Noting that India lags behind not only China but also Sri Lanka and many other neighbouring countries in terms of human resource development, it said additional fiscal space available needs to be utilised for this through growth-oriented social sector programmes.

It said that bottom-up approach in implementing rural development programmes can be achieved only by making PRIs more vibrant.

Citing the example of MGNREGS, the survey said it provided for preparing district perspective plans for five years.

“The PRIs have to play the principal role in preparation of this perspective plan. Since PRIs and gram sabhas are not adequately informed of the provisions of the Act and the processes involved, these plans are generally not prepared or are left to the bureaucracy and so the planning process merely becomes an action plan for utilisation of resources and therefore falls short of expectations,” the survey said.

Suggesting improvements in MGNREGs, it said “shifting to permanent asset building under the programme, better monitoring, skill improvement for enhanced employability and extension of the legislation to urban areas can yield better results.”

“It also needs to be ensured that implementation of the programme does not result in shortage of labour during the peak agricultural season for which PRIs and gram sabhas have to be adequately sensitised,” it added.

The survey said there is need to quickly link UID (Unique Identification number) to all social sector programmes “for better monitorable outcomes.”

The survey said coverage under MGNREGA had increased from 4.51 crore households in 2008-09 to 5.49 crore households in 2010-11 with averaged employment of 47 persondays per household. Average wage had increased from Rs 65 in 2006-07 to Rs. 100 in 2010-11.

It said the government has initiated a service delivery project for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and biometrics related works of MGNREGA on PPP (public private partnership) basis to strengthen transparency .

The Government, it added, had set up a committee for developing an index for fixing MGNREGA wage rates and their periodic revision. “Till such time a satisfactory index is proposed by the committee and accepted by the government, a decision has been taken to index wage rates notified under MGNREGA to the Consumer Price Index for agricultural labour,” the survey said.

It said Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana had been reshaped as National Rural Livelihood Mission and about 42.05 lakh self-help groups (SHGs) have been formed since its inception.

The survey said that over 19,443 km of all-weather roads have been completed during 2011-12 (up to December) under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. It said unit cost norms have been revised under Indira Awas Yojana and 27.15 lakh houses were constructed against the target of 29.09 lakh in 2010-11.

The survey said about 72 percent of rural habitations were fully covered with safe drinking water and about 13 crore Aadhaar (UID) numbers have already been generated.

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