Kerala

State scores high in creation of durable assets

For long, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) has faced much criticism as something which involves just the clearing of shrubs and no useful work as such. However, a conscious thrust on creation of durable assets has led to a sea change in the situation on the ground, with the creation of thousands of irrigation ponds and wells, cattle sheds, buildings for anganwadis, compound walls for schools and village roads.

It has reflected in an increase in the State's material expenditure, of the annual spendings from a mere 8.51% in 2018-19 to 14.26% in 2019-20 and 34.46% this year, as per the data till October 15. The material expenditure, a gauge for asset creation, is capped at 40% of the labour budget. National average this year is 26.53%.

Vegetable cultivation

The MGNREGS workers also played a key role in preparation of several pieces of land for vegetable cultivation as part of the Subhiksha Kerala project with an aim for self-sufficiency in vegetable production. For the Haritha Keralam Mission's Pachathuruthu (green islets) project for the creation of mini-forests in 1,250 plots, the MGNREGS workers were employed. They have been given the responsibility of upkeep of the forests for the next five years.

The workers were part of the mission's river rejuvenation projects in various districts. As part of water conservation activities, they have been involved in the creation of check-dams, revival of water sources, well recharging and creation of rainwater pits.

"In the early days of the scheme, the focus was only on providing employment. In 2014, the act was amended to include asset creation as one of the objectives. Yet, we took some time in shifting focus. In 2018, we took a conscious decision in this direction, which has now started showing results. The creation of individual assets like irrigation wells or cattle or poultry sheds will also ensure sustainable income for families dependent on agriculture or animal husbandry. It has ensured an increase in employment provided to 3.99 crore work days till September compared to 3.32 crore work days during the same period in the previous year" said an official from the MGNREGS State mission.

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Printable version | Nov 23, 2020 10:30:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/state-scores-high-in-creation-of-durable-assets/article32892702.ece

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