The Public Works Department (PWD) will not get assistance under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to execute the pre-monsoon works. Even as the district administration is trying to garner the support of other agencies, the department has assured that the work will not be stalled.
Last week, its Roads Division Chief Engineers across the state had approached respective District Collectors, to see if the works could be executed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). The Thiruvananthapuram district administration had then said that there was no provision in the MGNREGS to take care of routine maintenance works.
PWD Secretary T O Sooraj said: “Earlier, flood control could be executed under the MGNREGS. But last year the scheme was revised. Now MGNREGS funds are allocated only for tangible assets like construction of small roads, drains or canals. We are still trying to see if the pre-monsoon works can collect some funds. But if it doesn’t happen, we will go ahead with the routine allocation for pre-monsoon works.”
Pre-monsoon work involves cleaning the drains and clearing roadside vegetation. It usually begins in May and continues until the end of monsoons. But it is hard to ensure that contractors carry out the work during the whole period. So the government concluded that its funds would be better utilised in infrastructure development, rather than maintenance work. Repetitive work like flood control is not part of the MGNREGS for this reason.
The district administration is examining if flood control works can be part of a larger cleaning drive envisaged to prevent the rise of pre-monsoon diseases.
According to Collector Biju Prabhakar, “to discuss whether all pre-monsoon works can happen under one umbrella, a meeting of PWD, Kerala Water Authority, Health Department, National Rural Health Mission, Suchitwa Mission and grama panchayat representatives will be convened. We will be holding talks with Kudumbashree and Ayyankali Thozhil Sena to see how pre-monsoon works can be executed in the city. Two meetings have already been held with panchayat presidents and secretaries.”