As per the plan, the ministry will fast-track allocation of works under rural housing scheme, start construction of rural roads, and provide multiple works under the rural employment guarantee scheme. It will also restructure its social assistance programme to make it universal, the rural development minister told ET in an email interview.
These initiatives, together with the opening up of works after April 20 in line with the home affairs ministry’s guidelines for the extended lockdown, will go a long way in “restarting and acceleration the rural economy”, he said.
“The focus post lockdown would be completion of rural houses and accelerated creation of rural roads to help create employment,” Tomar said. “Besides, emphasis will be on to achieve the target of creating 281 crore person days under MGNREGA (the national rural employment guarantee scheme).”
A ‘person day’ is amount of work done by one person in one working day.
Besides reviving livelihood in rural areas by creating employment, the initiatives will also help the government meet its targets under flagship schemes, the minister said.
The rural development ministry estimates that there are nearly 4.1 million rural houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin ‘housing for all’ scheme where payment of second and third instalments have been made but the work has come to a halt due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
“These households must be assisted in a proactive manner to quickly complete their housing units,” Tomar said.
These households get paid for constructing their houses as the scheme is converged with MGNREGA.
The ministry will rope in more bank sakhis (women bank agents) and pashu sakhis (women working in livestock extension service) to inject liquidity in the rural economy and strengthen rural livelihood under the Deendayal Antyoday Yojana — National Rural Livelihood Mission. “Such an endeavour would bring bank credit and animal husbandry services to the doorstep of rural women,” Tomar said.
The government will also restructure the National Social Assistance Programme, which provides cash benefits to senior citizens and disabled, keeping in view the principal of universal coverage, he said. “The revamped scheme is being worked upon.”