IRDP is described officially as a major mechanism for the alleviation of rural poverty. The main objective of IRDP is to raise families of identified target group below poverty line by creation of sustainable opportunities for self-employment in the rural sector.
Assistance is given in the form of subsidy by the government and term credit advanced by financial institutions (commercial banks, cooperatives and regional rural banks.) The programme is implemented in all blocks of the country as centrally sponsored scheme funded on 50:50 basis by the centre and the states.
The target group under IRDP consists of small and marginal farmers, agricultural labourers and rural artisans having annual income below Rs. 11,000 defined as poverty line in the Eighth Plan. In order to ensure that benefits under the programme reach the more vulnerable sectors of the society, it is stipulated that at least 50 per cent of assisted families should be from scheduled castes and scheduled tribes with corresponding flow of resources to them. Furthermore, 40 per cent of the coverage should be of women beneficiaries and 3 per cent of handicapped persons.
The programme is implemented through District Rural Development Agencies (DRDAs). The governing body of DRDA includes local MP, MLA, Chairman of Zila Parishad, and heads of district development departments, representatives of SCs, STs and women.
At the grassroot level, the block staff is responsible for implementation of the programme. The State Level Coordination Committee (SLCC) monitors the programme at state level whereas the Ministry of Rural Areas and Employment is responsible for the release of central share of funds, policy formation, overall guidance, monitoring and evaluation of the programme.