The implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) has touched new heights in Alappuzha, with the district recording a 99.94 per cent utilisation of funds sanctioned from the Centre in 2010-2011. The district has spent more than Rs.75 crore, which is twice the amount it utilised the previous fiscal.

1.2 lakh families

District Collector P. Venugopal, addressing a press conference here on Saturday, said that 1.2 lakh families were given 51.48 lakh working days, out of which 48,84,682 days were for women, ensuring them wages summing up to Rs.67 crore.

A total of 12,227 activities were taken up as part of the scheme, out of which 8,157 were completed.

Stating that the utilisation target for 2011-2012 would be Rs.120 crore, Mr. Venugopal said that of the 73 panchayats in the district, four panchayats had succeeded in utilising more than Rs.2 crore. These were Kanjikuzhy, which spent Rs.3.13 crore; Mannancherry; Mararikulam North; and Arattupuzha. Thirty panchayats spent between Rs.1 crore and Rs.2 crore, while 34 spent between Rs.50 lakh and Rs.100 lakh. There were five panchayats that could not utilise even up to Rs.50 lakh while the panchayats of Haripad and Ala could barely reach even Rs.40 lakh.

The increased utilisation of funds under the MGNREGS had other advantages for the district, Mr. Venugopal said, pointing out that the first of its kind project in the State, to protect sacred groves, was initiated with the help of labour under MGNREGS. About 45 sacred groves had been brought under protective cover so far.

Paddy cultivation, vegetable and coconut cultivation, social forestry, irrigation and sanitation were the other areas where the MGNREGS made its impact this year.

Paddy farming

An additional 1,000 tonnes of paddy was produced after 270 hectares of land was cultivated under the scheme. An interesting achievement, the Collector said, was that 129 kilometres of canals under the Pampa and Kallada minor irrigation projects were de-silted and cleaned, paving the way for better availability of water even in wells in nearby regions.

The administration has plans to study the social impact of the programme in panchayats like the tsunami-hit Arattupuzha, where the living conditions of the villagers had shown considerable improvement, with the increase in income for the women of the village.

More than Rs.75 crore spent in the district in 2010-11 financial year.