The District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), Vellore has adopted a cluster approach in undertaking various works under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in order to enable more villagers to get employment, according to N. Srinivasan, Project Officer of the DRDA.
Talking to newspersons at the Alangulam irrigation tank in Melappulam village panchayat in Arcot panchayat union where the work of deepening of the tank under MGNREGS was under progress on Wednesday, Mr. Srinivasan said that if there are more than 200 workers in a village panchayat, a new cluster would be started, comprising workers from a group of habitations. Under this approach, two works each could be taken up in most village panchayats instead of one work in each panchayat as was done previously, he said. At present, 1123 works were going on in the 753 village panchayats in Vellore district, said S. Balakrishnan, executive engineer, rural development and R. Chakravarthi, assistant executive engineer, DRDA during a tour of the sites of the ongoing MGNREGS works.
The Project Officer and other officials said that a sum of Rs.119 would be given to a worker if he or she was able to deepen the irrigation tank to a measurement of 12 metres in length, nine metres in width and 0.33 metres (one foot) in depth. An average payment of Rs.85 is being made in the Arcot block for workers under the MGNREGS. Against Rs.five lakhs sanctioned for the deepening of the Alangulam tank spread over 12 hectares, work has been completed for a value of Rs.4,28,639. Work on the tank was commenced on July 15, 2011.
During the rainy season, the tank would be filled with the run-off water from the surrounding hills. When the tank is full, it would benefit the agricultural land on about 300 acres by facilitating the increase in the water table — through seepage — of the more than 100 open wells and deep borewells which are the source of irrigation water for the lands. Farmers in the surrounding areas have taken up cultivation of paddy, banana and groundnut. These crops would benefit through assured irrigation once the deepened tank gets water. The storage capacity of the tank has increased after the deepening work.
Out of 973 families in Melakuppam village panchayat, 575 have registered under the MGNREGS, while on an average, 40 to 80 workers are engaged daily in the work of deepening the irrigation tank. Thirty families have completed work for 100 days.