Monday, January 16, 2012

ZP Adhyaksh Raises Issues About Central Schemes with Minister


ZP Adhyaksh Raises Issues About Central Schemes with Minister

By Staff Reporter

The visits of Central Ministers to the Islands give the Islanders as well as the PRI representatives an opportunity to interact with them and present their grievances. However, it is learnt that in most cases, the ministers are kept in dark or the required forums are not provided by the Administration. They are quickly packed to some tourism destinations with one or two photo-ops with the Lieutenant Governor. The programmes are scheduled in such a manner that they spend very less time giving the Islanders an opportunity to meet them.
In a recent incident, when Pradeep Kumar Jain Aditya, MoS, Ministry of Rural Development visited the Islands, the PRIs or the nodal institutions working in the rural development sector were not allowed any meeting. He was quickly sent to Havelock Island on the same afternoon, he arrived here. Balakrishnan Nair, Adhyaksh, Zilla Parishad, had to intervene and interrupt the minister at Cellular Jail to submit a list of issues relatd with the implementation and execution of centrally sponsored poverty alleviation programmes.
In a representation submitted to the Minister, he raised many relevant issues. On MGNREGA wage rate for unskilled Agriculture labourers, the Adhyaksh highlighted that since Ist January 2011, the MGNREGA beneficiaries wages for unskilled labourers were reduced to Rs.170/-, whereas the wage as per the State Minimum wage for unskilled labour is Rs.205/- per day. In view of the high cost of living in these remote and geographically difficult islands, he advised to increase the MGNREGA wage rate for unskilled workers at par with that of the State Minimum wage.
He also highlighted that MGNREGA scheme should be used for creation of Durable Assets by incorporating materials in the civil works. The MoRD has stipulated 60:40 wage:material ratio for all works. As the cost index is very high in these geographically difficult and scattered Islands, it is difficult to maintain this ratio. He requested for relaxation to the Islands as regards to this ratio or the materials required to be provided at a subsidized rate by the developmental departments. 
He sought the intervention of the minister for strengthening of MIS by providing better infrastructure to PRI's for computerized reporting of MGNREGA to the Ministry as online proposals are mandatory for future funds release. Arrangements for leased internet line may kindly be obtained from BSNL and all Gram Panchayats to be provided personnel and computers linked through LAN with Blocks. The Blocks are to be networked with servers at district level. This will enable in better transparency and faster generation of reports enabling effective implementation of MGNREGA and other RD schemes too. Funding may be provided for this by the ministry.   This can be incorporated with the IT hub coming up after of laying of undersea optic fibre cables connecting major inhabitated Islands with State level servers.
Due to lack of funds under Indira Awas Yojana scheme with the DRDA, South Andaman district, application for sanction of financial assistance, for 1st Installment, and final payments of many poor Below Poverty Line beneficiaries are pending. He requested for immediate release of funds for the above purpose from the MoRD, GoI.
Majority of land holding in occupation of Islanders is under joint name. This acts as a constraint in availing facilities of schemes like IAY. Further, majority of BPL beneficiaries are landless or old encroachers of pre-61 and pre-78 awaiting regularization of their land. These people are eligible for electric and water connection but cannot avail IAY. He also requested relaxation in the norms to such BPL families.   
During the year 2010, for the implementation of centrally sponsored scheme of Total Sanitation campaign, house to house survey was conducted for providing individual sanitary latrines for BPL and APL families, latrines for institutional building and for creation of  community assets, including solid and liquid waste management were assessed and  a two year annual action plan with necessary fund requisition duly approved by the Zila Parishad and the administration was forwarded to the MoRD. Funds for the same needs to be released for implementation of TSC, Balakrishnan demanded.
On the revision of pay structure of MGNREGA functionaries, he informed the Minister that the salaries of MGNREGA contractual staff at the Gram Panchayats, Block level and others is less than half compared to salaries of the same rank of staff under NRHM and other centrally assisted schemes. The cost of living, maintaining of timelines in planning and execution, and maintaining greater transparency measures without sufficient remuneration to the staff is a major impediment in effective implementation of the scheme as well as morale of the contractual staff. He requested the Minister to revise the pay structure for these remote and geographically difficult islands.
Speaking to LOA, Balakrishnan Nair said that the Minister has shown keen interest in the matter and has assured action on the points raised.  

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