IT, Panchayat Raj and Rural Development Minister KT Rama Rao participated in the regional meeting of Rural Development Ministers, held at Kovalam, Kerala.
Speaking at the meeting, KTR made an impassioned appeal to the Union Govt, to continue the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. Here are the highlights of his speech:
At the outset, I would like to congratulate the MoRD, Government of India for convening this regional conference of State Rural Development Ministers on MGNREGS. This really provides a platform for sharing the experiences, mutual learning and reflect upon further ways to take the scheme forward for the benefit of the poorest of the poor.
I believe everybody will agree that eight years implementation of MGNREGS has made a significant dent in the poverty and vulnerability in rural areas. In our State of Telangana MGNREGS is implemented in 9 rural districts covering 443 Mandals. 100 crore person days have been generated with an expenditure of Rs.9,800 since inception. On an average about 25 lakh households are provided wage employment every year. This is 45% of registered households. Almost 95% of them are from SC, ST and BC categories, which includes most vulnerable groups like Chenchu tribe.
Major impact of MGNREGS
Empowerment of poorer sections of society through a guarantee of 100 days in the lean season of the year.
Increase in the wage rate. It has gone up from meager Rs.30 per day to about Rs.150 per day.
Reduction of distress migration in rural areas. Studies have shown that there is about 44% reduction.
Increase in income and savings of rural households. About Rs.6000 per year per HH.
Substantial improvement in the credit worthiness of rural households. Average Loan volume has increased to Rs. 32, 000 from Rs.
Neutralizing the negative effects inflation in rural areas to a great MGNREGS has not only helped us with the provision guaranteed employment to deserving sections of society, bur also led to the creation of durable assets and management of natural resources in rural areas.
1.95 lakh acres of horticulture plantations to about 89,000 SC/ST/SMF.
8.5 crore seedlings planted under bund plantation.
Restoration of traditional water bodies. 46,215 minor irrigation tanks have been taken up.
Improvement of the rural connectivity. 9,638 km of new roads formed benefitting 6,109 habitations. Connectivity has been brought to 1442 unconnected habitation through 1768 km of roads
Improvement of rural sanitation through IHHL and CC roads in SC/ST colonies. 3 lakh IHHL completed and 2.44 lakhs in progress. 1276 km length of CC roads formed.
Strengthening of rural infrastructure. 1644 GP buildings and 437 Mandal Samakhya buildings taken up.
It is well known that erstwhile AP and now Telangana has been in the forefront in the implementation of MGNREGS through trendsetting innovations which have been followed as best practices by other States. Some of these are transaction-based software integrated with electronic fund managementsystem, organization of wage seeker into Srama Shakthi Sangas,
Adhaar enabled payments through biometric system and participatory Social Audit. These interventions have gone a long way in bringing built-in transparency in the implementation of the scheme and minimizing the leakages.
Inspite of tremendous contribution to the rural economy in general and improving the living standards of the poor in particular, the MGNREGS is facing many challenges. Some which are delay and leakages in disbursement of wages, works without assets, marginal role of PRIs and some reported negative impact on agriculture sector. These issues can be addressed by taking up further studies and formulating appropriate strategies and deploying suitable systems.
In this regard it is submitted that we are highly concerned about the recent reports of downsizing the MGNREGS that has for the first time in the history of our country provided a real voice and choice to poor and vulnerable sections of the society. As almost 95% of rural HH are dependent on the scheme directly and indirectly, limiting the scheme in any way is likely to have far reaching consequences in future. Accordingly our state legislature has resolved to continue the scheme in the present form without imposing any restrictions.
Therefore on behalf of Telangana State I once again request the Government of India to continue and further improve the implementation of MGNREGS with innovations and learning experiences from other States.
I thank everyone for giving me this great opportunity.