Identify areas not covered by any financial scheme: Minister

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New Delhi, Sep 23 (UNI) Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has asked the states to identify those potential areas which do not fall under outreach of any financial institution and take steps to include them.

Addressing the 7th meeting of the the Central Employment Guarantee Council held recently, Dr Singh while delineating the critical steps taken by his ministry so far said with the universalisation of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) since April'08, the thrust is now towards extensive financial inclusion through complete wage payment disbursement through accounts by September 2008 to ensure transparency and plug leakages in the process.

He said for areas inaccessible to existing financial institutions, business correspondence model have been encouraged.

State must also identify potential areas which do not fall under outreach of any financial institution. The Minister also shared that on the direction of Ministry of Finance, LIC has classified NREGA workers as rural poor and to be covered under 'Janshree Bima Yojana' and 'Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana' for accidental and health insurance.

The Minister also emphasised strengthening of grievance redressal system at all levels. National helpline has been operationalised.

Setting up a Grievance Redressal System, State and District level helpline has been undertaken. Rules on Transparency, Public Accountability, Social Audit and Grievance Redressal have been formulated and forwarded to Ministry of Law for vetting. A draft report has also been prepared by the task force set up to recommend a model of Ombudsman.

Further, Financial and Audit rules have also been formulated and shared with the Ministry of Finance. 'Gram Sabhas' for planning and regular monitoring should be held regularly. Vigilance and Monitoring Committee meetings must also be regularly held at District, Block&GP level. Village level VMC must be activated and trained to monitor the performance at the field level.

Accountability should be fixed upon District Programme Coordinator at district level and Programme Officer at block level.

Hundred per cent work inspection at the Block level, 10 per cent at the District level and two per cent work at the State level are being complied with. By the end of this month, all live muster rolls will be online and fund flow statement should be updated for FY 08-09 through the MIS Financial Module.

The 'Rozgar Jagrookta Puruskar' award has been introduced to recognise outstanding contributions by Civil Society Organisations at State, District, Block and Gram Panchayat levels to generate awareness about provisions and entitlements and ensuring compliance with implementing processes.

The Council members also welcomed the recent amendment in the Act for extending provision of work in times to national calamities like the recent floods in Bihar to workers at the place of relief camps and displacement temporarily till restoration of normalcy. Council members also suggested that amendment should also extend to workers dislocated for prolonged periods of communal riots. It was also stressed that time and motions studies must be undertaken to ensure that the workers are able to earn minimum wages for a day's work.

The Minister assured the Council that all possible steps are being taken to ensure the efficient and transparent implementation of the NREGA though effective IEC, full operationalisation of MIS, wage disbursement through accounts, social audits and strict monitoring and vigilance.

UNI AJ SK Mir HS1913

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