The Centre has set a target of completing one million projects linked to water conservation under rural employment scheme MGNREGA in the first 100 days of the government, a senior official said on Tuesday. Over the past five years, MGNREGA has become the main force that is driving water conservation efforts across rural India.
The scheme has now evolved from being merely a mitigator of rural distress into a focused campaign to raise rural incomes through natural resource management (NRM) work. Approximately 60 per cent of the resources under MGNREGA are spent on NRM work which focuses on ensuring higher incomes to farmers by improving both the area under cultivation and yield of crops. This is done by improving the productivity of land and increasing water availability.
"We have set a target of completing one million natural resource management (NRM) projects mainly linked to water conservation in first 100 days of this new government," Secretary in the Department of Rural Development Amarjeet Singh told PTI. Out of these 10 lakh projects, more than 2.5 lakh will be built in the 1,192 stressed blocks selected for Jal Shakti Abhiyaan. These projects are also expected to be finished in the first 100 days, Sinha said.
The government has launched the Jal Shakti Abhiyan, a water conservation campaign with an emphasis on 1,593 stressed blocks in 256 districts across the country. In a statement, the Rural Development Ministry said it has mainly taken various water conservation projects under MGNREGA which include check dam, ponds, renovation of traditional water bodies etc.
"The list of activities are so designed that it suits the varying requirements of the states according to their topography. This has resulted in many of the states pooling their own resources along with MGNREGA funds to take up water conservation work with a lot of enthusiasm," it said. The Rural Development Ministry has also drawn Mission Water Conservation Guideline in partnership with the Ministry of Water Resources to focus on the dark and grey blocks where the groundwater level was falling rapidly.
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