The Ministry of Rural Development has decided to focus intensely on convergence of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act (MGNREGA) with other schemes to create durable and useful assets. It has introduced a new module to capture planning and implementation of convergence initiatives. 21 States have already prepared their convergence plans. Convergence has been closely linked to measuring outcomes of works and their impact on the rural economy. This was stated by Minister of Rural Development, Birender Singh, while addressing the tenth MGNREGA Divas celebrations in New Delhi. He said that the objective is to use MGNREGA for livelihood-based sustainable development.
The minister emphasised that MGNREGA has provided employment to crores of households every year and has become an important vehicle for enhancing the livelihoods of rural poor and strengthening the rural natural resource base. Over the last year, the ministry has streamlined the scheme to make it more relevant to the local needs and demands of the beneficiaries with greater focus on backward areas. The ministry also proposes to undertake skilling and entrepreneurship of MGNREGA workers and their family members in convergence with National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM).
Singh also stressed on the recent initiatives taken by the ministry to address issues around transparency and accountability in MGNREGA. For instance, some forward looking IT-based initiatives like universalisation of eFMS, notification of MGNREGA under Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) and mobile monitoring systems to have been introduced.
The minister said that MGNREGA is also supporting the other flagship programmes like Swachh Bharat Mission through the construction of toilets. As a part of Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin), to achieve the goal of a clean India by 2019, MGNREGA has been aligned with this initiative whereby nearly 2 Crore Individual Household Latrines (IHHLs) will be constructed during the next five years. States have also been requested to bring the existing MGNREGA workers with bank accounts under Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana and to open bank accounts for new workers under this Yojana.
He expressed the hope that the current initiatives will address some of the concerns around MGNREGA in a definite manner and contribute significantly to the more efficient implementation of the Scheme.
Three States, 11 districts, 15 Postal Department officers and 9 Sarpanches were recognised and awarded for demonstrating excellence and undertaking specific initiatives to ensure effective implementation of MGNREGA. These awards will encourage and motivate other ground level functionaries as well to further improve implementation of the Scheme.