December 2007

ICT for Implementation of Rural Employment Scheme

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GRAMSAT VSAT network played a vital role in the implementation of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA).  The availability of Internet connectivity at the block level through GRAMSAT provided the facility for online data entry and report generation. Today each job seeker is tracked on web and details of each project are verifiable by anyone.

National Rural Employment Guarantee Act of Union Parliament received the assent of the Hon’ able President of India on 5th September 2005.

Objectives
The Act provides:

  • At least one hundred days of guaranteed employment in a financial year to every household in the rural areas (as notified by the Central Government under Section 3(i) of the NREGA), and whose adult members, by application, volunteer to do unskilled manual works,Creating durable
  • community assets in the rural areas, and
  • Strengthening the livehood resource base of the rural poor.

Government of India has identified 19 districts of Orissa consisting of 205 blocks covering 3672 gram panchayats (the smallest administrative unit at village level) that covers more than 33000 villages under this act.

Orissa Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (OREGS): Government of Orissa  launched a scheme, ‘Orissa Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (OREGS) and started its implementation on 2nd February, 2006. Hon’able Chief Minister of Orissa inaugurated the scheme at Nadiali Gram Panchayat of Dhenkanal district by distributing the job-cards.

Rules  Under the NREGA ACT

  • Collaborative Partnership and Public Accountability : The Act envisages a collaborative partnership between the central government, the state government, the panchayats and the local community. At each stage of implementation such as planning, supervision and monitoring, the concerned authorities are accountable to the community.
  • Community Participation: The gram sabha/palli sabha are the statutorily mandated institutional mechanism for community participation. Local vigilance and monitoring committees, jobseekers group, local beneficiary committees, self-help groups, user groups and other grass-roots organizations can be involved in implementation for ensuring transparency and public accountability.
  • Role of Panchayats: The panchayats at each level will be the ‘Principal Authorities for planning and implementation of the Scheme.
  • Coordination among Agencies: The panchayats at different levels will need to coordinate with each other for the effective implementation of the Act. Similarly, the panchayats and the district/block administration will have to work together.
  • Resource Support: The central and the state governments will facilitate the implementation of the Act through timely and adequate resource support.

Orissa Employment Guarantee Council (OEGC): Orissa Employment Guarantee Council (OEGC) has been set up under section 12 of NREGA. It advises the state government on the implementation of the scheme and evaluate and to monitor it. It has the responsibility to prepare an annual report on OREGS to be presented to the Orissa Legislative Assembly.

Orissa Employment Guarantee Fund (OEGF): Orissa Employment Guarantee Fund (OEGF) has been established to ensure timely resource support to the scheme. It ensures that the State share of the OREGS budget is released in time.

Capacity Building : Officials

  • The state level collector’s conference was organised on 16th January, 2006 wherein revenue divisional commissioners / secretaries of departments / heads of departments were present. Chief secretary / development commissioner / agriculture production commissioner were also present, which was chaired by the Hon’ble Chief Minister.
  • A video conference review was held on 5th May, 2006 with all collectors and project director, District Rural Development Agencies (DRDAs).
  • Division level workshops of Project Directors (PD), DRDAs / District Project Officers (DPOs)  / Additional P.D,  DRDAs / Block Development Officers (BDOs) ware organised.
  • Workshop of P.D, DRDAs on 23rd February, 12th April and 3rd May, 2006.
  • Two day workshop-cum-training programme of   additional bdos / assistant engineers / junior engineers / computers programmers of 205 blocks in 10 batches at the state institute of rural development from 23rd Jan to 10th March, 2006.
  • Workshop on ‘NREGA online’ for program officers / computer programmers on 6th February and 3rd May, 2006.

Capacity Building: Non-Officials

  • One day workshop of member of legislative assemblies
  • Special zilla parishad meeting on 21st January, 2006.
  • Special panchayat samiti meeting on 24th January, 2006.
  • Special grama sabha on 26th January and 2nd February, 2006.
  • One day sensitization / awareness workshop at district level with senior officers of department from 27th January to 1st February 2006 for panchayat functionaries.
  • Job-seeker’s gram sabha on 21st April, 2006.

Because of low cost and high visibility, a number of Interactive Training Programmes (ITP) over GRAMSAT Direct Reception System (DRS) were conducted for creating awareness among the job seekers and  PRI officials.

NREGAsoft
National Informatics Centre (NIC)-Ministry of Rural Development has developed an Internet based MIS, NREGAsoft (http://nrega.nic.in) for efficient and transparent management of the scheme, that ensures the information availability in the public domain.

Among the 3-tier panchayats namely district panchayat, block panchayat and village panchayat, village panchayat is the most important stakeholder in the NREGA implementation. All the major functions have been given to the village panchayats. It includes

  • Registration and issue of job-card
  • Selection of projects
  • Receive demand for work from the job-seeker
  • Allocation of work  and issue of notice to the job-seeker
  • Receive muster roll from the Program Officer (PO) and filling of muster roll for payment of wage

i) Registration of job-seeker is done at the village panchayat level. Government of Orissa decided to use the Rural Household Survey 2002 data as the base for registration for two simple reasons:

a) it reduced the huge data entry burden resulting almost zero cost on registration,
b) checked the fake registration due to online validation of the job-seeker.

The data were handed over to the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India for uploading on to the NREGAsoft. The register of job-seekers was generated for each village panchayat from this data and handed over to the panchayats. Because of non availability of the IT infrastructure at the village panchayat level, the registration on the prescribed form is done at the village panchayat level and the forms are carried to the block for online registration. The photographs were taken using a digital camera. The whole process generates a unique id for each family e.g. OR-26-001-001-001/12345.  For each family a job card and job slips for each registered member are printed and issued.

ii) The projects to be taken up under this scheme is decided by the village panchayat through pallishabha.

iii) The next task of receiving the demand for work from the job seekers is with the village panchayat. The job seekers submit his/her demand in a prescribed form or in the form of a plane application mentioning the dates of demand.

iv) After a receipt of the demand has been received, village panchayat allocates the job to the job-seeker and accordingly serves the notice to join at the work site.

v) Village panchayat receives the muster roll from the Program Officer (PO) and looks after the payment to the job seeker after taking the signature / thumb impression on the muster roll.

Projects: The projects to be implemented under NREGA/OREGS are divided in to 5 different categories namely

  • Flood control
  • Rural Connectivity
  • Water Conservation
  • Drought Proofing
  • Other Works

The formats designed by the Chief Secretary, Orissa for National Food For Work Programme (NFFWP) are used for the project details data entry of NREGA.

The project details are entered by the village panchayat.  For each project a unique code is generated by taking state code, district code, block code, panchayat code and category of work e.g. 2426001001/WC-Tank/01.

After the project details data entry is done by the village panchayat, the project is available online to District Program Coordinator (DPC) for technical sanction and financial sanction.

Technical Sanction– The detailed estimate of the project prepared by the Junior      Engineer / Assistant Engineer is fed to the software. This is broadly divided in two different categories namely, labour component and material component. Under the material component the details of the materials like cement, sand etc and the quantity and prices etc are entered.

DPC can approve or reject the project at this stage. If the project is approved, then the  execution of work starts. GRAMSAT VSAT network played a vital role in the implementation  of NREGAsoft. The availability of Internet connectivity at the block level through GRAMSAT  provided the facility for online data entry and report generation. Today each job seeker is  tracked on web and details of each project is verifi able by anyone.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • To attract job-seekers other below poverty level (BPL) benefi ts should be given on a priority basis.
  • The national housing scheme, Indira Awas Yojana, could be given to NREGA worker household, if they are houseless and had worked for 30 days or more. NREGA card should be enough proof for getting social security benefi ts like priority on admission, mid day meal etc.
  • A computer profi cient junior engineer working for gram panchayats can make a sea change in project formulation, measurement and on the spot payment of wages to the jobseekers instead of Gram Rozgar Sevak with non technical capabilities. A gram panchayat (GP) with junior engineer can deliver all works programs including NREGA where as a GP without technical hand can not even effectively supervise rural development programs.
  • In Common Services Centre (CSC) being opened in all GPs under NREGA, web based panchayats can have Internet connectivity under NeGP.
  • GP with a laptop and a civil engineer can spend every rupee with transparency and can perhaps use ICT tools for rural development.
  • Use of GPS meter to identify location of projects in terms of lattitude and longitude to be placed in citizen centric web page to facilitate visual appreciation using Google Earth.
  • Separate entry formats may be incorporated to enable job card holders to seek job using IT kiosks.

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