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PM announces biometric technology in MGNREGA
MGNREGA worker Seetha Sharma demonstrating biometric based application before the audience/ Photo credit: OWSA
MGNREGA worker Seetha Sharma demonstrating biometric based application before the audience/ Photo credit: OWSA
A demo of OneWorld Foundation India's end-to-end biometric solution for MGNREGA working in Bhilwara and Korabad districts of Rajasthan was given, as the PM announced the incorporation of biometrics to the scheme.

India’s Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh announced the preparation of a nationwide biometric database of the MNREGA workers at the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA Sammelan, 2011, held in New Delhi.

The mechanism will facilitate work applications, attendance at the worksite along with wage payments. “This will end discrimination and curb irregularities in wage payments and fake muster rolls,” said Dr. Singh.

Commemorating five years of the programme, Dr. singh announced a 17-30% increase in MNREGA wages to adjust for the inflation. He emphasised that the delivery mechanisms at the ground level have to be strengthened to empower the real beneficiaries.  He highlighted the role of the IT enabled services to curb mishandling of wealth as well as reduce corruption.

The biometric enabled technology was demonstrated live to the gathering by a MGNREGS worker Seetha Sharma from Bhilwara district in Rajasthan.

A small portable handheld device integrated with its user-friendly audio-enabled touch-screen allows workers to register online, read job cards, demand and obtain a job, generate e-muster roll, and check wage accounts. The device also houses a GPS system which registers geo-tagged attendance of the workers; camera for the biometric registration and a thermal printer that would enable the workers to print dated receipts and pay slip. An online dashboard helps officials to monitor work progress in real time.

“I am impressed with the display of technology,” said Dr. Singh after the demonstration.

The wage payments under MNREGA are being undertaken by more than 10 crore banks and post offices across the country. Business correspondents of commercial banks will be responsible to deliver payments to MNREGA workers of the remote areas.

The biometric database of the workers would be UIDAI compliant to facilitate a large scale implementation.

The end to end biometric solution in MGNREGA was outcome of a pilot project demonstrated in Bhilwara and Korabard districts of Rajasthan by OneWorld Foundation India. This frame work has already been adopted as the national ICT framework for MGNREGA by the Ministry of Rural Development in August 2010.

"We hope it will substantially reduce instances of discrimination in work allocation, delayed payments and bogus muster rolls." said Dr. Singh.

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

National Advisory Council Chairperson Sonia Gandhi in her speech applauded the programme for its myriad achievements ranging from providing sustainable livelihoods to the rural poor to creating “green” assets. “I am especially pleased that 50% of the beneficiaries of the programme are women,” she said.

However, she expressed concern over irregularities and corruption in its implementation.

Gandhi feels that the social audit at the Gram Panchayat level should be strengthened. Women SHGs and NGOs can be partnered with the scheme. According to her, MGNREGA can enhance agriculture and usher in a green revolution.

At the Sammelan, awards were distributed for excellence in MGNREGA administration. Winners of the Rozgar Jagrookta Puraskar Scheme , Financial inclusion for Banks and Post Offices were also awarded.

Rural Development Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and Ministers of State Pradeep Jain, Sisir Adhikari were among those who attended the function.

Source: OneWorld South Asia