RINAGAR, Nov 29: Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Abdul Haq Sunday said the MGNREGA funds would be utilized for creating productive assets in the rural areas instead of squandering the same on unproductive works, as was the practice in the past.
“We will not allow construction of protection bunds, drains and lanes henceforth, but will utilize MGNREGA funds for improving connectivity in villages, flood protection works and creating assets for villages,” the Minister said while reviewing physical and financial achievements in the rural development sector in the twin districts of Pulwama and Shopian today.
Legislators, Mohammad Khalil Bandh, Zahoor Ahmad Mir, Advocate Mohammad Yousuf Bhat and Aijaz Ahmad Mir were present at the meetings.
The Minister was informed that in district Pulwama, under MGNREGA, 1194 works were taken up during the current financial year out of which 617 works stand completed at a cost of Rs 10.12 crore. Under these schemes, 1.76 lakh man-days were created for the job card holders of the district.
Minister was informed that under IAY, out of the target of 1848 houses to be constructed during the current fiscal, 560 houses were constructed for the people living Below Poverty Line (BPL).
Similarly, in Shopian district, the Minister was informed that 1127 works were taken up under MGNREGA during the current fiscal out of which 802 works were completed at a cost of Rs 11.94 crore. Under IAY 511 houses have been constructed at a cost of Rs 1.49 crore.
The Minister said that Shopian and Pulwama districts have good potential for fisheries production and asked them to go for convergence of funds with Fisheries Department so that this high-return industry gets a boost with the help of MGNREGA. “Let the Fisheries Department come up with plan for construction of fish ponds, we will provide labor budget under MGNREGA for the same,” he said.
Abdul Haq also laid stress on improving connectivity in rural areas. “Better connectivity, flood protection works and sports grounds can be constructed under MGNREGA in the villages,” he added.
The Minister also asked the officers to create productive assets under MGNREGA. "In the past MGNREGA works were restricted to construction of protection bunds and small lanes. Forget about that now. Create useful assets in the villages under this scheme for the future generations," Khan added.
Laying stress on bringing transparency in the execution of works, Abdul Haq asked the officers to take the concerned legislators into confidence before taking up any work for execution so that it will bring more transparency in the public domain.
During the meeting, Abdul Haq directed the officers of the department to complete the works by December this year. “Don’t prolong the same till end of financial year,” he said adding that the working season of the valley is up to December as the last quarter of the year witness harsh winter in the valley due to which execution of works are not possible.
The Minister warned of strict action against the officers if the funds are lapsed. "I will reward performing officers and every employee's performance will be reviewed," he said.
Minister asked the officers of Rural Development to make the local Grahm Sabhas vibrant by creating awareness among them. “Gram Sabha doesn’t mean group of persons in a room. If possible beat the drum to make it more inclusive so that every citizen is part of our development process,” he said.
This was the first of its kind review meeting at micro level in Pulwama and Shopian wherein the Minister interacted with officers at ground level. He interacted with technical experts of the department working on ground and sought suggestions from them for better use of funds in rural areas.
The meeting was attended by Director Rural Development Tassaduq Jeelani, DC Pulwama Neeraj Kumar, DC Shopian GM Dar besides officers of Rural Development, ACDs, Xens, AEs, BDOs, VLWs, GRSs and other officers of the districts.