Sadak, Bi­jli, Paani Sarkar

The ru­ral devel­op­ment min­istry has kept up the good work of the previous Modi gov­ern­ment. It needs to ex­pand its fo­cus in the sec­ond term

India Today - - WATER - By Ajit Ku­mar Jha

The Jour­ney So Far

The Naren­dra Singh To­mar-led min­istry of ru­ral devel­op­ment (MoRD) aimed to com­plete 1 mil­lion nat­u­ral re­source man­age­ment (NRM) or wa­ter con­ser­va­tion projects un­der the Ma­hatma Gandhi Na­tional Ru­ral Employment Guar­an­tee Scheme in its first 100 days. As of Au­gust 30, 661,003 NRMs had been com­pleted.

Un­der the Jal Shakti Ab­hiyan (JSA), nearly 211,000 works in 1,146 se­lected ru­ral blocks are to be com­pleted. As of Au­gust 30, 157,688 had been fin­ished.

Af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Gram Sadak Yo­jana (PMGSY) I and II , PMGSY-III guide­lines are being fi­nalised, with the ob­jec­tive of con­struct­ing 125,000 km of ru­ral roads

With women’s self-help groups (SHGs) be­com­ing the new model for women’s en­trepreneur­ship and fe­male em­pow­er­ment in ru­ral ar­eas, the MoRD has been fo­cus­ing on con­vert­ing nano en­ter­prises run by such women’s SHGs into small and mi­cro en­ter­prises. By in­volv­ing SHGs, 59,120 ru­ral start-ups have been brought un­der the vil­lage start-up en­ter­prise pro­gramme. The min­istry has pro­vided Rs 150.8 crore from the com­mu­nity en­ter­prise fund to cre­ate the vil­lage start-up en­ter­prise pro­gramme.

Is It Enough?

In the NDA gov­ern­ment’s first term, the fo­cus was on de­vel­op­ing ru­ral in­fra­struc­ture, such as roads, houses and toi­lets. How­ever, the re­cent drought ex­posed the lim­i­ta­tions of these pro­grammes. Per avail­able data, only 16 per cent of projects in 2018-19 were drought re­lated.

The min­istry is re­ori­ent­ing MGNREGS to­ward wa­ter con­ser­va­tion by re­serv­ing at least 75 per cent of work-days for wa­ter stor­age and agri­cul­tural ac­tiv­ity-re­lated work

The min­istry says that over 7 mil­lion ru­ral house­holds from droughtaf­fected re­gions sought employment un­der MGNREGS. House­holds that need employment span across 105 dis­tricts across the coun­try, cov­er­ing 3,000 pan­chay­ats.

Some 6.3 mil­lion house­holds got work, but of those, only 900,000 got 100 days of employment, while only 700,000 man­aged 150 days of employment. The gov­ern­ment has called for ad­di­tional employment in ru­ral dis­tricts, over and above the 100 days per house­hold un­der MGNREGS.

The Un­fin­ished Agenda

The fo­cus on potable wa­ter in ru­ral ar­eas should be taken fur­ther. The MoRD should de­velop large-scale ru­ral wa­ter pip­ing projects and link them to clean sources of wa­ter.

There needs to be a fo­cus on clean­ing ru­ral wa­ter bod­ies, in­clud­ing tanks, ponds and wells. This will re­duce the spread of wa­ter-borne dis­eases like dysen­tery and ty­phoid.

Link­ing vil­lages to towns and vil­lage house­holds to main roads un­der PMGSY-III. Fur­ther, ru­ral roads need to be reg­u­larly main­tained and re­paired, such as af­ter the mon­soons.

Cre­at­ing jobs for ru­ral women to rec­tify the de­clin­ing ra­tio of women in the work­force

Reskilling the un­skilled labour force in ru­ral ar­eas and re­mu­ner­at­ing them while they ac­quire those skills, in or­der to en­sure strong mo­ti­va­tion

A BRICK IN THE WALL A newly-con­structed toi­let in Bhopal dis­trict, MP

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