From using information technology to reach wages to the workers’ doorstep to deploying government funds on private land, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) is headed for a major revamp.
The changes, which stem from successful pilot projects in the past, are aimed at making the world’s largest job plan more efficient and productive.
The revamp is likely to be announced on August 20, the birth anniversary of late Rajiv Gandhi.
The NREGS, which covers about 4.5 crore people across the country, was credited much for the goodwill that helped the UPA return to power in recent elections.
The biggest change will come with NREGS correspondents, employees of local banks, who would distribute wages to the workers enrolled under the scheme in their village and will also accept deposits.
“Each correspondent will carry a handheld machine linked with the server of the local bank to money transaction in the villages,” said Mihir Shah, member in-charge of rural development in the Planning Commission.
“The device would have mobile internet connectivity”.
A pilot project in this respect was carried out successfully to distribute wages in tribal areas of Orissa.
Some panchayats of Ranjandgoan district in Chhattisgarh, where a deadly Naxal attack claimed nearly 40 lives earlier this week, had used NREGS money to build check dams and ponds for improving underground water level resulting in doubling of agriculture production.
NREGS money in Andhra Pradesh has been used for creating assets that provide self-employment to villagers.
“These small pilots would now be replicated all over the country in NREGS-II,” Shah said.
A new component to be added to the job scheme is for allowing self-employment avenues. Asset creation will help the villagers to self-employ themselves and will reduce dependence of present workers on the scheme in future.
“The new version of the flagship programme is likely to enlarge its ambit to small and marginal farmers, who constitute about 80 percent of the farming community to improve agriculture productivity,” Shah said. “NREGS funds will be used for building water harvesting systems, wells and compost units to small farmers to improve agriculture productivity.”