Eco conservation, farming to be brought under job guarantee scheme

In view of the increasing demand for jobs under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the district panchayat is planning to bring more schemes on eco conservation and agriculture under the scheme. With a total outlay of Rs.245 crore, MGNREGS has been given the largest allocation in the district panchayat's budget for 2012-13.

“Last year we had earmarked only Rs.90 crore for MGNREGS. However, we implemented around projects worth Rs.131 crore under the scheme. In fact, the district had to borrow money to take up projects and disburse wages under the scheme. So this year, we made a substantial allocation of Rs.245 crore,” said district panchayat president Ramani P. Nair. She added that the district topped the State-wide implementation status of the project.

Among the major works to be taken up under MGNREGS are conservation of fresh water sources in the district such as Vellayani Lake and Chenkal Lake, minor irrigation works, soil conservation projects, and dairy farming.

“Since the material component for MGNREGS works has been increased by the State government from zero to 40 per cent, tangible asset creation is now possible under the scheme. That is another reason for increasing the fund allocation for the scheme,” said district panchayat vice-president Rufus Daniel.

Mr. Daniel said the panchayat was taking the issue of encroachment of Vellayani Lake very seriously. He demanded that the State government declare the lake as an ecologically fragile water source.

“We first need to earmark clear boundaries for the lake. But that is possible only with the cooperation of Revenue Department officials who have all the records. Many new drinking water schemes for the coastal region are being sourced from the lake. Unless it is properly conserved there will be no water left to supply,” he said.

The district panchayat will implement decentralised waste management schemes in all grama panchayats. Mr Daniel said that Rs.10 lakh would be provided for every grama panchayat to set up biogas plants for processing biodegradable waste.

“Our aim is to set up at least one biogas plant in every grama panchayat. We want every grama panchayat to have at least 50 household-level waste treatment units,” he said.