Not Just A Random Digging Programme

The Hindu Business Line|February 25, 2020

Not Just A Random Digging Programme
MGNREGS has created assets that have made farming viable. But funds cutback and rural vested interests can erode its impact. A BusinessLine analysis
Radheshyam Jadhav

This summer, about 400 men and women, belonging to the Warli tribe from the tiny Dongarshet hamlet in remote Peth taluka of Maharashtra’s Nashik district will not have to migrate in search of livelihood and water. Last year, the people demanded, and received, work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). They cleared sediment in the village water reservoir. About 61 people worked for almost five weeks for which they received ₹206 daily in wages.

This monsoon, the reservoir was full of water, water level in the village well improved and a hand pump delivers ample water now. For the people, the government scheme has provided wages and water. They are happy to work under MGNREGS as they could stay with their families and cattle instead of wandering for work in Nashik and other cities.

It’s a different story with Shantaram Choudhary. In the scorching noon heat the 61-year-old is treading muddy slopes in his Sadakwadi hamlet in Mokhada taluka of Palghar district. “This used to be a water reservoir (see pic). Water was stored with the help of a bund. But reservoir sedimentation has left no scope for water storage. Last month we have worked here almost for two weeks under the government scheme, MGNREGS. But now the work is halted. We are waiting for the approval to carry out the remaining work,” says a gasping Shantaram clearing sweat on his ragged face.

Surrounded by mountains, Sadakwadi receives massive rainfall but struggles to get drinking water during summer. “All the water flows down the hill and we have nothing to stop it. Once we clear sediment in this reservoir, we will be able to save water,” says young Ramesh Barap who was one of the villagers engaged in clearing sediment.

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February 25, 2020