Works worth Rs 2,880 crore had already been sanctioned for 19 NREGS districts, said Mr G. Chinna Reddy, Minister for Rural Development.

Our Bureau

HyderabadMay 28Villagers in remote areas will soon have the convenience of `anytime money' that their counterparts in cities enjoy.

They will have biometric-based smart cards that would allow them to go to their nearest mandal headquarter and withdraw money they receive under various social security schemes.

These ATMs, or bank outposts, would be manned by `business correspondents' appointed by the banks.

The Andhra Pradesh Government, with assistances from Reserve Bank of India and several banks, is implementing a pilot project in three mandals in Warangal district, according to Mr K. Raju, Principal Secretary (Rural Development).

Addressing a press conference here on Monday, he said about 60 lakh people in the State, who drew old age pensions, widow pensions and wages under National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), would benefit.

"We will begin disbursing wages through ATMs by June 1. After the pilot, we will scale it up to cover the whole of Andhra Pradesh," he said.

Explaining why the Government was so keen on setting up ATMs, he said the machines would check "pilferages" in disbursing NREGS wages at various stages.

"These will remove human intervention and impersonation," he said.

Targets

Of the 54 lakh job cards issued under NREGS, the Government targeted to reach at least 30 lakh households this year.

Works worth Rs 2,880 crore had already been sanctioned for 19 NREGS districts, said Mr G. Chinna Reddy, Minister for Rural Development.

The social audit initiative proved to be a great success, prompting other States to emulate.

"Of the 650 mandals where the scheme was in vogue, people conducted social audits in 200 mandals.

"About 200 officials involved in implementation of the scheme were found to be involved in financial irregularities," he said.

Seeing the efficacy of the public monitoring of the scheme, the Government had decided to extend social audit initiative to all of the 959 NREGS mandals, covering 19,000 panchayats.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 29, 2007)
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