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Mahatma Gandhi NREGA Sammelan 2011 begins today

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) completes five years since its launch today. In order to commemorate the completion of the fifth year of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Ministry Of Rural Development is organizing Mahatma Gandhi NREGA Sammelan on Wednesday, the 2nd February ,2011 . Five years ago on the same day, the scheme was launched from Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh with the objective to provide every rural household a guarantee of at least 100 days of employment during a financial year by providing unskilled manual work in rural areas to those members of the rural household who volunteer to do such work.

National Rural Employment Guarantee Act

It is now spread over all the 625 districts of the country. The Sammelan aims to highlight the achievements of the State Governments in rural development. The interactions during the Sammelan will serve to facilitate exchange of information among State Governments, media persons, and members of the rural households. In addition it will provide an opportunity for learning and dissemination of best practices in the implementation of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA across the country.

Rural Development and Panchayati Raj in India

Union Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh will inaugurate the Sammelan. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi would address the gathering on this occasion. The major attraction would be the demonstration of Bio-Metric based ICT enabled MGNREGA process to ensure transparency and accountability in payment of wages to the right person in time. During the Sammelan, “Report to People on Mahatma Gandhi NREGA” showcasing the performance under the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA over the past five years would be released along with the “Rozgar Sutra” highlighting the provisions, rights and entitlements under the act . “Voices from the field” an interactive session has been organized wherein the workers who have completed 100 days of work under Mahatma Gandhi NREGA and the Sarpanchs from the rural areas would share their experiences along with District Project Co-ordinators. The District Programme Coordinators and their district teams, bank and post office functionaries and civil society organizations would be felicitated for their exemplary work.

Around 1200 participants from all over the country are likely to participate in the deliberations. These include among others the State Rural Development Ministers, the Deputy Chairperson and Members of Planning Commission, Members of Central Employment Guarantee Council, awardees of excellence in NREGA administration, awardees of Rozgar Jagrookta Puraskar Scheme, awardees of financial inclusion for Banks and Post Offices ,representatives of Panchayati Raj institutions, District Program Co-ordinators and his team members, Senior State Government Officials from the Rural Development Ministry, Heads of Financial institutions including Post Offices, Banks and Insurance Companies.

Under MGNREGA, 4.1 Crore households have been provided jobs in 2010-11 up tol December 2010. Women constitute 47% while Scheduled Castes account for 28 %, and Scheduled tribes comprise 24% of those working in Mahatma Gandhi NREGA in 2010-11. The scheme has resulted in the financial inclusion of around 10 crore workers who have opened bank/post office accounts under the Scheme, has encouraged thrift and savings. Expenditure on wages since inception has been around Rs. 74677 crores which is around 70 % of the total expenditure.Wage rates under MGNREGA have been enhanced by the Ministry of Rural Development with effect from 1st January 2011 which has led to 17-30% hike in the wages under the premier flagship program of the UPA Government. The wage rates enhancement has been linked to Consumer Price Index for the agricultural labour calculated on the basis of Rs. 100 or the actual wage rate, whichever is higher as on April 1st, 2009. The move is likely to benefit more than 5 crore beneficiaries under MGNREGA across the country. The new wages under Mahatma Gandhi NREGA come into effect from January 1,2011 and are higher than the prevailing wage rates under MGNREGA at present in many states.

Over 68 lakh works have been taken up in 2010-11 under MGNREGA. Water Conservation, irrigation and land development account for over 75% of work taken up in 2010-11.Experience shows that the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable groups have sought employment under the program. Focus now is on transparency and accountability with social audits, Biometric enabled-ICT based MGNREGA process for safeguarding the worker’s rights, enhanced productivity and sustainable development. These efforts along with the strengthening of Gram Panchayats and empowering the workers would go a long way towards ensuring that the benefits of development reach out to the needy and poor in the rural areas across the country.

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