Uttarakhand tweaks NREGS to check forced migration from hills
DEHRADUN: To check forced migration from the hills, the Uttarakhand government has given the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) a new turn to help the poor create assets that will be a permanent source of livelihood for them.
“We have tweaked the NREGS a bit. Under its new format, the rural poor will be permitted to utilise the wages provided to them to set up orchards, goat sheds or the infrastructure required for poultry farming on their land,” additional secretary, rural development, Yugal Kishor Pant told Hindustan Times. “These assets, once in place, will become permanent sources of livelihood for them, and also help to check forced migration from the hills.”
Pant asserted the centrally sponsored scheme would come to the aid of small and marginal farmers in border areas. “The scheme was tweaked because wages paid to the rural poor in lieu of works such as digging of pits or laying of cement concrete roads are a one-time affair.” Conversely, wages paid to these farmers for creating assets such as gardens, poultry farms and goat sheds would become a permanent source of livelihood.
“Such a scheme will be a win-win situation for all---the NREGA, the beneficiaries and the government,” Pant said, adding the scheme was incentivised because the number of the rural poor availing it had started dwindling. “It had started declining because most of them felt embarrassed working as daily wage labourers. Besides, it also involved a lot of drudgery and wages the rural poor got were meagre and a one-time affair.”
The scheme would help farmers create permanent assets on their own farmland. “Other than being much more dignified for the rural poor , this form of labour will help them set up assets that will turn into permanent sources of livelihood,” Pant said. Other departments such as horticulture, agriculture animal husbandry and fisheries would pitch in to help these farmers. “These (departments) will provide the rural poor saplings of fruits trees, fish, poultry, cow and goats.”
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