Rural ministry seeks extra Rs 70k-cr for BPL families

Written by Mukesh Ranjan | New Delhi, Nov 6 | Updated: Nov 7 2007, 05:09am hrs
Dissatisfied with the allocations to his ministry, though second highest in terms of proposed gross budgetary support (GBS) for the 11th Plan after education, rural development minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has sought additional resources to the tune of Rs 70,000 crore to cover 4.5 crore below-poverty-line (BPL) families under Swarnajayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY).

Singh had shot off a letter to deputy chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia last week expressing his concerns over resource crunch in implementing SGSY and poor health of its implementing agency, district rural development authority (DRDA).

Drawing the attention of the Plan Panel the minister said, there are 4.5 crore BPL families in the country, which are awaiting sustainable means of livelihood and the SGSY could cover only 20% the families till now.

He also lamented that existing efforts under the scheme are mostly skewed, as the southern states account for the bulk of self-help-group (SHG) creation, which has resulted in leaving larger poverty pockets in the cow belt areas uncovered.

The minister demanded that the Plan Panel should target at least one person from each of the BPL family by creating about 26 lakh more SHGs. The entire exercise would require an additional fund of about Rs. 70,000 crore, he said.

Expressing his dismay over the Plan Panels idea of phasing out the subsidy component under SGSY, the minister argued that conscious policy intervention in terms of subsidy is essential for the scheme to help the beneficiaries overcome their inherent handicaps caused by socio-economic disadvantages.

Capital and interest subsidies are both crucial financial tools for poverty elimination. If there is a problem in targeting the beneficiaries, that could be worked out and my ministry is open to the idea of modifying the present system, he said.

Favouring merger of DRDAs with zila parishads, the minister argued that in states where the two have been merged the ministry found it easy to successfully implement the rural development schemes.