Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) has brought momentum in the financial inclusion of the country’s rural population.
Participating in the eighth MNREGA Divas Sammelan along with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan strongly pitched for utilising the MNREGA to increase agricultural production.
Sonia said the flagship scheme could play a big role to usher in second green revolution in India. “I am of the belief that the MNREGA has tremendous potential to increase agriculture production, which we have not been able to tap fully till date. There are many possibilities not only for creating community assets in villages, but also for providing irrigation facilities to small and marginalised farmers, developing land and promoting farming,” Sonia said.
“This scheme has become a powerful tool of empowerment. Though the participation of women in this scheme at the national level is almost equal to that of men, still there are many states where either due to lack of information or lack of amenities at workplace, women are not able to participate,” she said.
Manmohan said the use of information technology in the MNREGA at many levels has helped better governance and increase accountability and transparency in government work. He said over four crore bank accounts have been opened under the MNREGA and even more accounts have been opened in post offices. “These accounts will help in implementing direct benefits transfer scheme to our rural population,” he said.
Maintaining that the Centre had taken many new initiatives related to the flagship scheme in the last one year, the Prime Minister said 30 new works have been added to the list of works permitted under the MNREGA, which focus on providing employment in rural areas primarily through agriculture.
“A huge improvement can be made in the services provided under the Integrated Child Development Scheme, if the resources available with both the MNREGA and ICDS can be used together,” he added.