2 Oct :Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has called upon the legal fraternity to suggest the way in which the legal frame work of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP) can be strengthened to make it more effective in providing guaranteed employment to the rural people across the country. Dr. Manmohan Singh was inaugurating an Initiative on supporting through the State Legal Services Authorities here today.
He said it is important that the rural poor are made aware of their rights under the programme and also taught how to articulate them he express satisfaction over the decision taken by the National Legal Services Authority, the State and District level Legal Services Aurthorities and the High Court Legal Services Committees have decided to work in this direction.
Describing the NREGA as a path breaking legislation he said it entitles our rural poor to guaranteed employment, to a mean of sustenance, a mean to avert distress, a mean to secure two square meals a day, and a mean to lift them out of the trap of poverty. He said we must realize the difference between a scheme and a programme of guarantee and the legal guarantee of 100 days of employment in a year to a rural household is unprecedented. If properly implemented and sustained, the programme can also help build assets that contribute to growth in rural areas. The centrality given to Panchayati Raj institutions in implementing the Act and the right to demand employment have the potential. The Prime Minister said during the last three years of implementation of this programme, the Central Government has so far released Rs. 36,000 crore to the States. The State Governments are being encouraged to make payments under the programme through bank and post office accounts have been opened. In 2007-08, 3.4 crore rural households benefited from it. In 2008-09, up to August 2008, about 95.3 crore persons-days of employment has been provided to about 2.7 crore rural households. He expressed happiness on the increase in the wage earnings of rural poor as many States have now increased their statutory minimum wages. Maharashtra from Rs. 47 to Rs. 72, Uttar Pradesh from Rs. 58 to Rs. 100, and Bihar from Rs. 68 to 81. No other initiative of any Government has had such a positive impact on the incomes of the poor. Praising the better performing States in the implementation of NREGP he urged the States lagging behind for putting all efforts to catch with more progressive ones. He also emphasized to put in place a mechanism that rigorously and independently evaluates the rural employment Guarantee Programme, a part of flagship schemes. He said the outcome of the evaluation should serve as feed back for improving programme designs and said instructions regarding the examination of the subject have already been issued.
In his welcome address Dr. Justice Arijit Pasayat, Judge Supreme Court of India stressed upon the awareness regarding the Legal help issues and easy access to eat for the rural masses. He said regional seminar to generate awareness are being planned.
Dr. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Union Minister for Rural Development in his address said the rural people are eying on the fruitful result of the initiative taken by the Legal fraternity. He said this act guarantee that no person will die of hunger if implemented will change the face of Rural India Dr. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said of the 36,000 crore rupees released by the Government so far Rs. 33,000 crore have been spent and currently the NREGP is under implementation in all the 647 all the dstricts of the country. He said this programme has resulted in building permanent assets for rural connectivity and restoration /renovation of water bodies in rural areas and has become instrumental in putting a check on distress migration. Speaking on the extension of Janashri Beema Yojana, Aam Aadmi Beema Yojana and Rural Health Insurance scheme to Rural workers He said these are bound to help the Rural masses in a long way. He lauded the Legal Experts in choosing the Birth Day of Mahatma Gandhi for the this initiative as a very pious act.
In his address the Union Minister for Law & Justice Shri H.R. Bharadwaj said there are issues and challenges including legal issues in implementing the NREGS. The State Authorities can generate awareness among the rural public about their rights and benefits of the Scheme. Lack of awareness is one of the reasons for poor response to the Scheme. In some of the areas. The Legal Services Authorities can ensure awareness among the citizens in partication with the various stakeholders of the Scheme. He termed Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh as a visionary and architect to the NREGA which is a legal guarantee of 100 days wage employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
Shri Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Chief Justice Supreme Court of India said the initiative taken today is in National interest and will ensure speedy and easily accessible avenues of Justice for the for Rural poor especially the SC, ST and the women. He said the concept of Lok Adaalat was a premiere in providing legal assistance to the needy, especially the deprived ones in this regard.
The vote of Thanks was given by Mr. Justice Mukul Mudgal, judge High Court of Delhi.
Earlier in the day a National level interaction on implementation of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was convened at Vigyan Bhawan where the Speaker included Dr. Rita Sharma, Secretary, Rural Development presented a national overview on NREGP. Mr. T.K. Vishwanathan, Secretary Ministry of Law & Justice highlighted the role of the Legal Services Authorities in implementing Social Welfare Schemes, particularly, NREGA. The executive Chairman and Member Secretary of State Legal Services Authorities, Ministers, Secretary to Different Central / State Ministries and various Stakeholders to the programme participated to device means for better implementation and creation of awareness about the program among the rural poor.