Sonia launches National Rural Livelihood Mission (Lead)

June 3rd, 2011 - 5:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi Banswara (Rajasthan), June 3 (IANS) United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi Friday launched the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) that aims to reach out to below poverty line (BPL) households through self-help groups.

She said social audit of rural development schemes was a must to ensure inclusion and accountability.

“Social audit is absolutely necessary to ensure participation and accountability of administration,” Gandhi said, addressing a well-attended rally in this predominantly tribal district of Rajasthan.

She said it was easy to start a programme but the real challenge was to ensure its proper implementation.

The Congress president said self-help groups had helped women gain confidence. “The more women are empowered, it will strengthen the society and the country.”

NRLM will reach all blocks of the country by the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2016-17). It aims to involve at least one member, preferably a woman, of an estimated seven crore rural BPL families in self-help groups and enhance their livelihood skills.

Gandhi said the NRLM will ensure that self-help groups are connected to financial institutions for easy loans.

She said the central government will create a new institution to ensure easy availability of loans to self-help groups and the finance ministry has already provided Rs.500 crore for this.

Gandhi said the panchayati raj system had led to 10 lakh elected representatives, half of whom were women.

She said self-help groups “should work with panchayati raj institutions to ensure that programmes reach people for whom they were meant”.

“The food security bill is being given final shape to end hunger and exploitation in society,” Gandhi said.

Describing Banswara as “land of martyrs”, she said people of the region had laid down their lives during the freedom struggle. She said traditions of tribal areas should be protected.

The function was attended by Rural Development Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Road Transport and Highways Minister C.P. Joshi, Housing and Poverty Alleviation Minister Selja and Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Mukul Wasnik.

Minister of State for Communication Sachin Pilot, Minister of State for Finance Namo Narain Meena and Minister of State for Rural Development Pradeep Jain were also present, along with several Congress MPs, legislators and ministers from Rajasthan.

Rural development ministry officials said the NRLM was a “revolutionary step” and its core belief was that the poor have a strong desire and innate capability to come out of poverty.

They said the Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana has been restructured as the NRLM as the programme had brought into focus certain shortcomings.

The NRLM will enhance existing livelihood options of the poor, build skills for the job market and nurture self-employment through social mobilisation.

It also has provisions for tie-ups with the private sector for job placements. The mission will follow a demand-driven strategy with states having the flexibility to develop their own livelihood-based perspective plans.

Gandhi earlier laid the foundation stone of the Dungarpur-Banswara-Ratlam line near Dungarpur railway station.

The Congress president, who arrived at the venue of rally in a helicopter, unveiled a scheme of the Rajasthan government to construct 10 lakh houses for BPL families in the next three years.

The state government will avail loan of Rs.3,400 crore to construct the houses for the poor.

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