Govt upbeat about success of rural development programmes

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New Delhi, Apr 21 (UNI) Sounding upbeat about the success of its rural development programmes, the government today said the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) had the potential to stamp out the scourge of poverty from the country and warned of zero tolerance to corruption in its implementation.

Replying to the discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the working of the Rural Development Ministry, its minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said NREGA was not only historic legislation but also the flagship programme that would ensure food security to the hungering masses in rural areas.

''I concede that there are glitches in the implementation of NREGA; there have been instances of corruption. But it will be difficult to brush aside the scheme which has started transforming the rural face of India,'' he said.

Dr Singh said schemes like NREGA, Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), Indira Awas Yojana and Bharat Nirman were intended to mount a concerted assault on the citadel of poverty, and there was no reason why these measures would not succeed in their objectives of empowering the rural masses and ensuring a poverty-free existence to them.

Reeling out a string of statistics, the minister said the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, which has so far been implemented in 330 districts, had generated employment for 3 crore 20 lakh people and created 120 crore man-days at the end of March this year.

''When the scheme is implemented throughout the country, 4-5 crore families below the poverty line will benefit from it,'' he asserted.

In order to streamline its implementation, Dr Singh said he had charted out a five-point formula -- awareness, people's participation, transparency, vigilance and monitoring and IT application.

''These programmes have to be executed by the state governments, and it is incumbent upon them to provide a congenial atmosphere,'' he pointed out.

In this connection, he said efforts were being made to provide wages to the rural workers through bank or post office accounts.

Such a mechanism would finish the middlemen, who had been siphoning off funds under NREGA.

Dr Singh said other scheme like PMGSY and Bharat Nirman were also revolutionary in nature. Under the two schemes, Rs 48,000 crore had to be spent in four years from 2004-05 to 2008-09.

''There have been slippages in the implementation of these programmes , but effective measures are being taken to remove the shortcomings.'' Under Indira Awas Yojana, he said 60,000 houses had to be built in four years. Out of these, 45,000 dwelling units had already been built.

He also praised states like Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Sikkim for making remarkable progress towards providing sanitation to their people.

''The Millennium Development Goal has set the target for total sanitation by 2015. We are hopeful of achieving the goal by 2012 itself,'' he said.

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