Maha EGS dept to launch social media campaign

Mumbai: In order to bring in transparency and accountability in the administration of the Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS), the Maharashtra government has prepared a social network campaign to enable the EGS department to open a communication channel with the stakeholders.

State EGS Minister Nitin Raut told PTI that the pilot project will be launched from the EGS commissionerate in Nagpur over the next three months and then extended to the entire state. An expenditure of over Rs 30-40 lakh is expected on the project, which is jointly prepared by the EGS and the IT department.

Raut said Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have already initiated the schemes of electronic fund transfer, electronic muster and payment of wages through smart cards. He said the electronic equipments will help stop malpractices in hiring labourers and payment of wages.

The minister said the use of SMS, helpline, website and social networking media like Facebook, twitter and blogs will help in tracking field performance, programme implementation and monitoring the transactions under the EGS.

The social media will be maintained by the EGS commissionerate, he said adding that the Mahatma Gandhi National EGS and the state government`s EGS will be brought under the new information technology.

Raut said the SMS service will help labourers send their complaints about the scheme including the non-payment of wages. He said mobile phones penetration is very extensive in the rural areas and is used by all the sections of the society in rural places.

Raut said the government plans to use the medium of social networking media, website and SMS to reach out to the people and propagate the activities and employment opportunities for the unemployed youth in the rural and urban areas. "We will gather the requirement of today`s youth as per the fast-changing socio-economic conditions in the country. We must understand the fact that the current approach of the ministry was designed keeping in mind the requirement of the youth more than 20 years ago," Raut pointed out.

The proposed website will disseminate information about the current employment avenues and central and state government schemes initiated by various ministries for different sections of the society.

Another section of the website will be designed to receive feedback, suggestion, new ideas on the approach towards the employment guarantee for youth. "We can post videos, multi-lingual texts, pictures, documents for live experience. Debate can be initiated, information can be collected on required topics and have interactive sessions," he added.

Raut said the aim was to involve the general public so that they can participate in the framing new policies. He said a helpline will be a good alternative to the rural youth to overcome technological barriers.

"This helpline will not serve as a complaint and redressal cell, but will be used to gather inputs from callers regarding their problems with the current employment system and suggestions on what can be done for the betterment of the scheme. The operator will also provide information on various government schemes that are available for the caller in his area," he added.

The minister said the feedback received from people through the social media campaign will be transformed into an effective policy for the government.