Rural Development Ministers Meeting on Wednesday to discuss National Rural Livelihood Mission (NLRM) and NREGA

The Ministry Of Rural Development has convened one day conference of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Ministers from the States & Union territories on Wednesday, 9th September, 2009 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi to discuss the features of the proposed National Rural Livelihood Mission (NLRM) and the emerging issues in NREGA. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh will deliver the keynote inaugural address while the Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Dr.C.P. Joshi would underline the high points of the Mission.

High on the agenda would be the discussion on poverty reduction strategies and the restructuring of the existing Swarna Jayanti Grameen Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY) as the National Rural Livelihood Mission(NLRM) . The meeting would provide the forum to seek the views of various stakeholders in finalizing the details of the NLRM for having a focused approach on poverty eradication in a time bound manner. The other important issue on the agenda would be streamlining the implementation and monitoring of NREGA to strengthen the delivery mechanism.

The meeting assumes significance in the backdrop of the decision taken by the Ministry of Rural Development to re-design and re-structure the on going Swarnjayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY) into National Livelihood Mission (NRLM) as the cornerstone of national poverty reduction strategy. The objective of the Mission is to reduce poverty among rural BPL by promoting diversified and gainful self-employment and wage employment opportunities which would lead to an appreciable increase in income on sustainable basis. In the long run, it will ensure broad based inclusive growth and reduce disparities by spreading out the benefits from the islands of growth across the regions, sectors and communities.

Under the re-structured program it is proposed to aim for universal mobilization of the rural poor communities into SHGs i.e. to bring at least one member from each BPL family into the SHG fold in a time bound manner, in order to correct the even spread of formation of SHGs among the states and also to ensure widespread social and economic empowerment of the rural poor, especially of rural women. It will also be attempted to further federate the SHGs at village and block levels for collective actions. A dedicated implementation structure is proposed to be put in place with the National Rural Livelihood Mission is to National level supported by similar apex bodies at the state, district and sub-district levels in the states for inducting professionals/domain experts and dedicated support staff, lack of which has been a major drawback under SGSY. It is proposed to enhance the subsidy under the program to bring it in line with the increased cost indices. In addition, it is proposed to introduce interest subsidy for ensuring availability of credit at prime lending rate to the swarojgaris from public sector banks. It is also proposed to up-scale Special Projects to focus on innovative projects placement linked skill development projects in order to provide wage employment by tapping the opportunities arising at the lower end of the skill base in the sunrise sectors of the economy like textiles, construction, hospitality, security, automobile, health, services etc,.

In addition to utilizing the existing infrastructure in the states for skill training and capacity building of rural poor, a major initiative has been taken for involving the public sector banks for setting up Rural Self Employment Training Institutes, at least one in each district in the country, for skill training and handholding of the rural BPL youth both for self employment and wage employment. 500 such institutes are proposed to be set up by 2012. Steps are also proposed to be taken to create pools of Community Resource Persons and Master Craftsmen for capacity building and skill development training of the SHG members. Skill training to be imparted will be aimed exploiting the employment opportunities both in local areas and also elsewhere.

The on going Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) has been under implementation since April, 1999. The scheme involves selection of key activities, planning of activity clusters, organization of the poor into Self Help Groups (SHGs) through social mobilization and building their capacities through training and skill development, creation of infrastructure, technological and marketing support, etc. The scheme is implemented through District Rural Development Agencies (DRDAs) with active involvement of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), banks, line Departments of the state governments and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). Since the inception of the program and up to March, 2009, 34 lakh Self Help Groups have been formed of which 23 lakh SHGs are women SHGs which is about 67.64% of the total number of SHGs formed under SGSY. During this period a total number of 120.88 lakh Swarozgaris have been assisted with a total investment of Rs. 27183.03 crores.

It is also proposed to induct dedicated professionals at various levels for implementation of the program. Special emphasis would be on technology inputs. Under the scheme, focus would be on providing assistance to the swarojgaris from the deprived sections of the society including the SC/STs,, women , minorities and the disabled.

NREGA to strengthen other hand has been instrumental in providing succor to the rural poor through additional income by guaranteeing them employment for at least 100 days in a year. In 2008-09 under NREGA, employment was provided to nearly 4.5 crore households. Of those employed nearly 50 percent were women and over 55 percent comprised of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe workers. In the three-and-a-half years of its implementation the Central Government has released over Rs 50,000 crore to the State Governments. Of which nearly two-thirds have been paid as wages to NREGA to strengthen. The average notified wage has risen from Rs. 65 per day in 2006-07 to Rs. 87 in 2009-10. The State Governments are being encouraged to make wage payments under the Program through bank and post office accounts. Nearly 7.8 crore such accounts have been opened. The works being undertaken in NREGA to strengthen water conservation, water harvesting, drought proofing, restoration and rejuvenation of water bodies, plantation and afforestation, land development and rural connectivity lead to the rejuvenation of the natural resource base and contribute towards sustainable rural livelihoods. Efforts are now being made to ensure convergence between programs and schemes of the Ministries of Agriculture, Water Resources, Environment and Forest for achieving synergies and also forging backward and forward linkages. Government is also encouraging implementation of the program through Panchayats, wherever possible.

The conference would be attended by the Union Ministers of State for Rural Development Shri Pradeep Jain Aditya, Shri Shishir Adhikari and the Ministers of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj from various states/UTs. It is aimed at sharing and discussing the implementation of employment generation schemes in the rural areas for the benefit of the people to achieve broad based inclusive growth objective of the 11th five year plan.

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AKT/ST/SAK
(Release ID :52453)