New Delhi: Considering the drought-like situation in the country, the Centre has asked the states to strengthen Panchayati Raj Institutions for better planning and implementation of NREGA under which water and soil
conservation activities are taken up.
"The exigencies of the drought-like situation in large
parts of the country make it an imperative to strengthen PRIs
as it calls for massive planning of works not only under NREGA
but also under other relevant schemes (of rural development,
agriculture, forest and environment, and water resources),"
Rural Development Minister C P Joshi has said in a letter to
all chief ministers.
Referring to the provisions of NREGA, Joshi said
panchayats are the principal authorities for planning and
implementation of the Act.
While, at least 50 percent of NREGA funds are to be
spent directly by the gram panchayats, a "cardinal principle"
of the Act is that work priorities are set by the gram sabhas.
These features of the Act offer a "unique opportunity" to
strengthen and enable PRIs, especially gram panchayats and
gram sabhas, he said.
Convergence guidelines, issued by the ministry, seeks to
efficiently manage and conserve national resources, including
soil and water, Joshi said.
This assume critical importance in the prevailing
drought-like situation. Much of the convergence could be
planned and implemented effectively only by gram panchayats
and gram sabhas.
He asked the chief ministers to consider "specific"
action and measures to provide essential staff and
infrastructure to gram panchayats and ensure "better" transparency and
accountability in the PRIs.
The minister also asked them to generate "better"
awareness about NREGA in rural areas and ensure effective
mechanism for grievance handling and monitoring.