New Delhi, Apr 23 (UNI) The Government today admitted that there were ''irregularities and shortcomings'' in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) initially, but expressed confidence that its flagship programme would be successfully implemented in all states of the country.
Replying to the seven-hour-long debate on the demand for grants to the Rural Development Ministry for 2008-09, Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said the scheme (NREGS) has gained momentum in the recent past despite initial shortcomings.
''We have been able to tackle all the shortcomings and discrepancies in the scheme, which has now started picking up. We are quite hopeful that it will be successfully implemented across the length and breadth of the country,'' he added.
The Minister said the UPA government had taken many initiatives for rural development and several schemes such as NREGS, Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) were under different stages of implementation.
He stressed the need for transparency, accountability, awareness, public participation and strict monitoring for successful implementation of all rural development schemes.
''We have resolved that there will be zero tolerance for corruption. Unscrupulous officers are responsible for irregularities and inconsistencies in various schemes,'' Dr Singh said.
He said the PMGSY was also heading towards success despite some spillover. ''We often face a shortage of contractors as they do not come forward due to intimidation by criminals.'' However, he said the government was moving ahead in this direction as road construction was directly linked to rural economy.
''We have already connected 13,000 villages and 12,000 more will soon be covered,'' the Minister added.
Speaking about IAY, he said the amount paid to the homeless had been increased from Rs 25,000 to Rs 35,000 to enable them to construct their houses. ''They can also take a loan of Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 on a 4 per cent interest rate for the purpose.'' However, Dr Singh said several people in the country were still without houses. For them the government had purchased land so that they could construct their houses, he added.
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