At the National Conference of Legal Experts, Union Rural Development Minister, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh underlined the need for generating legal literacy across rural areas for strengthening and ensuring of implementation of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). Equipped with legal literacy the rural populace becomes more aware of the provisions of the Act (NREGA), people's participation increases, vigilance and monitoring is strengthened, and transparency & accountability is brought into the system. The minister reiterated that this Act is the great benefactor of the rural poor as it enables the workers to demand work upto 100 days during the year.
On the occasion the Minister also released the Report of the Expert Group on Grievance Redressal under NREGA set up by the Ministry under the Chairmanship of Prof. Mool Chand Sharma, Vice-Chairman of UGC. The Expert Group has recommended the Lok Adalat model of grievance redressal and organization of legal awareness camps for generation of awareness in rural areas under the aegis of National Legal Services Authority and the Ombudsman system of grievance redressal.
Singh providing a detailed report of NREGA said that from 2006-07 to Oct.2008 total amount spent on wages are INR 26489.80 crore whereas total expenditure on NREGA is INR 38832.09 crore, total mandays created since inception are 350.87 crores. He said NREGA has created great impact on increasing wage rates significantly in the country. At National Level the average wages paid under this Act have now touched Rs.85 in the current financial year. He said more than 4.8 crores saving accounts of workers have been opened in banks and post offices for payment of wages to the workers. Now the benefit of the Janashree Bima Yojana and Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana are also being extended to the workers. Through the NREGA website 85 lakhs muster rolls and 5.22 crore job cards have been put on the website which are in public domain. He hoped that with the support of NALSA the grievance redressal mechanism in respect of NREGA will get a boost.