Punjab to tap into MNREGS funds for infra upgrade in rural schools
Pact signed with rural development and panchayats department to allow the school education department access to funds to the tune of Rs 150 croreUpdated: Jul 11, 2020 00:45 IST
In order to improve facilities in its schools in rural Punjab, the state government has decided to utilise funds from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to upgrade their infrastructure.
As per the plan, the rural development department will fund the creation and upgrade of facilities such as toilets, playgrounds, parks, compound walls, and mid-day meal kitchens in elementary schools in rural areas of the state with funding received under the centrally-sponsored scheme. The rural development and panchayats department has signed an agreement with the school education department undertaking asset creation and upgrade of existing infrastructure in schools.
The pact will allow the school education department access to funds to the tune of Rs 150 crore, under the flagship rural job guarantee programme, for improvement of facilities in schools, according to sources. There are 9,000 primary and upper primary government schools in rural areas of the state. The department has also been designated as an independent implementing agency for carrying out construction work in schools under the programme.
The school education department also gets funds under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan after approval from the Union ministry of human resource development, but delays in the release of its share by the cash-strapped state government have been a constant problem.
Seema Jain, financial commissioner, rural development and panchayats, and Krishan Kumar, secretary, school education, have, in a joint letter to all the deputy commissioners-cum-district programme coordinator on Thursday, MGNREGS, asked them to personally monitor the sectoral programme of convergence of the scheme with the school education department by holding regular fortnightly review meetings for its effective implementation. “This drive will create transformational changes in school infrastructure,” they wrote, defining roles and responsibilities of officials of the two departments.
The scheme funds will also be used for the construction of anganwadi centres, plantation works, deployment of van mittars, and a few other activities in rural schools.
Krishan Kumar said the department is trying to tap maximum funds under the programme. “We have already sought proposals from rural schools for improvement of facilities as per the permissible norms,” he said.
The school education department has been asked to carry out the work by using manual labour and not machines as far as practicable. “No contractors are to be involved at any stage and only registered job cards holders to be employed on the MGNREGS component of the convergence project,” said a rural development department official, citing the programme guidelines.