Waterbodies shared by village panchayats and town panchayats should also be covered under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
Such a course of action is inevitable if their restoration is to be taken up effectively and comprehensively as the catchments transcend territorial boundaries of town panchayats or village panchayats.
To illustrate a case, when a canal runs from a village panchayat to a town panchayat, silt removed upstream may not serve the intended purpose fully as the portion of the canal in the downstream is still silted.
Under the present scope of the scheme, removal of silt from a waterbody in a town panchayat is not permitted.
“Officials concerned have made it clear that the workers can be employed only within village panchayats.
As a result, the cleaning of the canals is still incomplete”, says G. Ajeethan, State Technical Secretary of the Consortium of Indian Farmers Association (CIFA).
The incomplete operation does not help the supply of water to agricultural fields, especially in the tail-end,” State general secretary of the Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam K. Sundaram points out.
Works can be allotted under the scheme without affecting agricultural activities from September to February, he suggests.
“Shortage of workers during this period has made difficult the cultivation of essential crops, including paddy, sugarcane, tapioca, groundnut and fodder such as sorghum and maize.
This is because the workers are assigned MGNREGS works during the agricultural season. As a result of this, they are not ready to work in the fields during the agriculture season.”
Mr. Sundaram reiterates that a solution can be worked out by allotting the works during the lean period of agricultural activity.