Wa­ter struc­ture

Down to Earth - - Cover Story / Mgnrega -

of 10 mil­lion per­son-days of work ev­ery­day from June 15 on­wards. The strat­egy paid off. The state re­ported a three-fold in­crease in the de­mand dur­ing May-June com­pared to the cor­re­spond­ing pe­riod last year. The suc­cess of Ut­tar Pradesh is clearly pal­pa­ble in Sid­dharth­na­gar, among the coun­try’s 250 most back­ward districts, which ad­joins Nepal. Ev­i­dently, the district re­ports high lev­els of mi­gra­tion—es­ti­mates show that al­most a quar­ter of the peo­ple from the district mi­grate to cities in search of me­nial jobs. Sens­ing a swell of re­turn­ing work­ers fol­low­ing the lock­down, district mag­is­trate Deepak Meena put in place a plan for each of the 1,110 vil­lage pan­chay­ats in the district. A list was pre­pared, iden­ti­fy­ing those who would de­mand work, their skill and what works should be un­der­taken. Most vil­lage pan­chay­ats listed wa­ter con­ser­va­tion works like dig­ging new ponds and tanks or ren­o­vat­ing them as a pri­or­ity work. “In the four months till July, we have utilised 61.4 per cent of the labour bud­get for the year and cre­ated close to 6 mil­lion per­son­days of works by re­ju­ve­nat­ing 1,000 ponds and 140 tra­di­tional har­vest­ing struc­tures,” says Pulkit Garg, chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer of the district. At least 64 ponds have been dug un­der MGN­REGA on pri­vate lands.

San­jay Sharma, in-charge of MGN­REGA in Sid­dharth­na­gar district of the state, says, each of the newly dug or ren­o­vated ponds have the ca­pac­ity to ir­ri­gate 30 ha. Be­sides, they will con­trol floods and wa­ter log­ging, which are ma­jor threats to agri­cul­ture. Al­to­gether, these bod­ies have added 40 mil­lion cu m to the wa­ter stor­age ca­pac­ity of the district and will ben­e­fit 10,000 to 12,000 fam­i­lies.

Across the state, some 83 per cent of the 0.7 mil­lion works that the gov­ern­ment plans to un­der­take this year un­der MGN­REGA are wa­ter con­ser­va­tion-re­lated works, such as mi­cro-ir­ri­ga­tion, ren­o­va­tion of tra­di­tional wa­ter bod­ies and rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing struc­tures. Ram­braj, a 45-year-old res­i­dent of Bhi­tiya vil­lage in Sid­dharth­na­gar, is well aware of the

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