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Prime Minister announces MGNREGA biometric database
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced the proposed creation of a MGNREGA biometric database to authenticate work applications, work-site attendance and wage payments, and a wage hike under the scheme as per the rise in consumer price index.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said wages would be hiked under the rural employment guarantee plan to offset inflation while UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi said it was time to introspect on the shortcomings of the rural jobs scheme.

"We have decided to hike the wages as per the rise in consumer price index. This will raise the wages by 17 to 30 percent," Manmohan Singh said at a function to mark the fifth anniversary of the Mahamta Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in New Delhi.

The gathering was also addressed by Sonia Gandhi who called for new direction.

The prime minister recalled that the daily minimum wages of a worker in the scheme was Rs.65 when it began in 2006.

"Now it is Rs.100, which itself is a big rise," he pointed out.

United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi said it was time to introspect on the shortfalls of the scheme and move forward in new direction.

"The scheme has been a big success in creating employment for rural people, especially those belonging to weaker sections and women," she said.

"However, there have been complaints of irregularities and corruption too."

"It is an occasion to analyse the shortcomings in the implementation of the scheme, plan new directions and move forward," she said.

Manmohan Singh said a substantial section of the beneficiaries of the NREGA were Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and women.

The scheme has been able to boost rural economy, he added.

He said the scheme was a "major step by the UPA government to fulfil Mahatma Gandhi's dream of alleviating poverty".

Grassroots officials of NREGA and other rural development schemes were awarded prizes at the function.

Rural Development Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and ministers of state Pradeep Jain, Sisir Adhikari and Agatha Sangma were among those who attended the function.

Govt plans to create biometric data base of MNREGA workers

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said the government proposes to create a biometric data base of all workers covered under its flagship MNREGA scheme and use it to authenticate work applications, work-site attendance and wage payments.

Making the announcement at a function held in New Delhi to mark five years of the launch of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), Singh said, "We hope it will substantially reduce instances of discrimination in work allocation, delayed payments and bogus muster rolls."

The Prime Minister also expressed concern over problems in implementation of MNREGA in Naxal-affected areas.

He announced that the government will establish a technical unit, comprising a panchayat development officer and a junior engineer, in each gram panchayat.

"Priority is being given to Left-wing extremism affected districts, and districts where the annual MNREGA expenditure is above Rs 100 crore," Dr. Singh said.

He also took note of reports of harassment and intimidation of social auditors.

"Authorities should take strict action in such cases. Comprehensive rules to strengthen the social audit process by the gram sabha are being formulated," he said.

The Prime Minister maintained that MNREGA had generated 880 crore person days of work since its inception.

"52 per cent of the work has been done by those belonging to the Scheduled Cases and Scheduled Tribes and 47 per cent by women," he said.

Dr. Singh also noted that wages under MNREGA were now being disbursed through more than 10 crore bank and post office accounts. 

Source: DD NEWS