Need to check graft in MNREGA, scheme can bring second green revolution: Sonia Gandhi

ACKNOWLEDGING the "corruption and misutilisation of funds" in the implementation of UPA government's flagship rural job guarantee scheme MNREGA, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday stressed the need to check it.

"We frequently hear complaints of corruption and misutilisation of funds in this scheme. It is very essential to put a check on this," she said addressing MNREGA Divas Sammelan to mark the seventh anniversary of the launch of scheme.

For this purpose, Sonia stressed the importance of timely conduct of "social audit" of the programme and suggested using the modern IT technology to plug the deficiencies in the implementation of this scheme. "It is very necessary to hold social audit in time. In addition, modern information and communication technologies should be used to plug the deficiencies," she said.

Both Sonia and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who inaugurated the conference, highlighted how the programme can be leveraged to bring about a "second green revolution" and help facilitate rollout of the government's direct benefit transfer project.

"Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act has brought momentum in the financial inclusion of our rural population. More than four crore bank accounts (of beneficiaries) have been opened and even more accounts have been opened in post offices. These accounts will assist us in reaching the incentives of the Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme to the rural population," Singh said in his address.

The Congress president, on the other hand, lamented that the scheme has not been properly utilised to contribute to the agriculture sector and expressed hope that it can be leveraged to bring about a second green revolution in the country.

"I am of the belief that MNREGA has tremendous potential to increase agriculture production, which we have not been able to tap fully till date. Manifold increase in the produce of farmers can be made by connecting this scheme with the use of modern technologies in agriculture. There is no doubt that MNREGA can play a big role in fulfilling our dreams of a second green revolution," Sonia said, highlighting how the programme can be used to provide irrigation facilities to small and marginalised farmers, for developing land and promoting farming among other things.

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