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ICT for people’s empowerment under MGNREGA
MoRD announced nationwide rollout of biometric-ICT applications for improved MGNREGA implementation, in collaboration with UIDAI. Rural women facilitated by OneWorld, UNDP, MoRD, demonstrated entitlements via the project.

In yet another step towards ensuring transparency and accountability in the implementation of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA using the ICT (Information and Communication Technology) tools, the Ministry Of Rural Development would roll out the Nationwide Biometric database of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA workers in collaboration with UIADAI (The Unique Identification Authority of India). A Memorandum of Understanding to this effect was signed with UIADAI at a National Workshop in Vigyan Bhawan here today on the Mahatma National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, titled “ Mahatma Gandhi NREGA making ICT an instrument for People’s entitlement: A step towards Governance Reform and Transparency ” on the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi . With this partnership MoRD and UIDAI would cooperate and collaborate in the process that would lead to better efficiency, transparency and accountability in the implementation of the right to wage employment guaranteed under the Act.

The Highlights of the inaugural session was a demonstration of Biometric based ICT enabled Mahatma Gandhi NREGA processes by MGNREGA beneficiaries from Bhilwara, Rajasthan. It was followed by the release of the National Framework for biometric based ICT enabled end to end solution. Biometric based ICT pilots have led to the foundation of a strategy for the nationwide rollout of this initiative. This will promote transparency and accountability. Real time data on MGNREGA processes will reduce delays in measurement and wage payments. In addition to this, the data so created could also be used by UIDAI for generating the UID number and by Banks and Post Offices for the purpose of servicing MGNREGA accounts through the Business Correspondent model.

In his address the Union minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Dr. C.P.Joshi said the need of the hour is to address the issues in MGNREGA such as delays in payment of wages, doing away with bogus muster rolls and ensuring the rights and entitlement of beneficiaries with the help of Unique ID and Biometric system the tools of Information and Communication technology. It will also help connect the 2.50 lakh Panchayats spread across the country and re-mould their functioning in a swift and transparent manner. Moreover, the ICT enabled end to end solution will focus on issues of governance reform, transparency and accountability in the context of MGNREGA, Dr. Joshi added . He emphasized the need to strengthen the infrastructure at Panchayats and said construction of Panchayat Ghars and Bharat Nirman Rajiv Gandhi Sewa Kendras should be given a push.

Union Minister of Environment and Forests Shri Jairam Ramesh while complementing Dr. Joshi for the initiative taken towards better implementation of MGNREGA through ICT said this step is a befitting tribute to the memory of late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He said the time has come now to consolidate the gains under MGNREGA.

Chairman, Unique Identification Authority Of India (UIADI) Shri Nandan Nilekani emphasized the importance and benefits of UID and said that the “Adhar” model would help at in identification, attendance registration and payment of wages to MGNREGA beneficiaries. He called for a larger relation with the Ministry Of Rural Development by linking UID with other schemes for the benefit of the rural poor.

Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia underlined the need to look for the convergence with other schemes from different ministries in the run up to the preparations of the 12th five year plan.

Prime Minister’s Advisor on Infrastructure , Shri Sam Pitroda joined the proceedings live from Chicago, USA by video conferencing. In his address he said that MGNREGA has defined a regime of rights and entitlements for marginalized sections of the society and the time has come now for democratization of information. This, he added is possible with the help of ICT which has the potential to increase transparency, accountability and efficiency .

The Workshop was attended by the Union Ministers of State for Rural Development Shri Pradeep Jain Aditya , Shri Sisir Adhikari, Ms. Agatha Sangma alongwith the Secretary Rural Development Shri B.K.Sinha, representatives from centre and states,Planning Commission,Unique Identification Authority of India, State Institute Of Rural Developments, Panchayati Raj Institution members from district, block and gram panchayats ,representatives from good performing districts, MGNREGA beneficiaries, MPs and other key stakeholders.

The emphasis in MGNREGA is now on ensuring public accountability, strengthening transparency and encouraging activities that tap the productive potential of works undertaken so that it becomes a platform for sustainable development. This would help in enforcing transparency at the grass root level. With the help of ICT devices especially Biometrics attendance would be ensured on site to improve the overall delivery system in the implementation of MGNREGA by capturing all the processes right from registration, demand of work, issue of dated receipt, allocation of work, attendance at worksite with GPS coordinates ,measurement of work and wage payments.

Mahatma Gandhi NREGA has generated 777 crore person days since its launch in 2006, in which women have half the share and SC/ST more than half. Minimum wages have risen across the country because of MGNREGA intervention. Out of the total expenditure of Rs.95496 crore, 68% has been spent on wages .9.19 crore bank/post office accounts of workers have been opened ,encouraging savings among the poor.45 lakh works have been completed ,with more than 50% work on water conservation, making MGNREGA an ecological act. It is expected that the deliberations at the workshop would go a long way towards innovations by bringing in more transparency under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA).

Source: Press Information Bureau