Fencing with fast growing trees, shrubs and aromatic plants to protect crops from wild animals is now permitted under MGNREGS.
“Construction of pucca boundary wall is a material intensive work and not permissible. On the other hand, live fencing is a labour intensive work,” a recent advisory from the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) to the State Government said. Electric fencing to check the entry of wild animals into civil areas has proved costly with increasing electrocution of elephants.
The advisory of the Centre was in response to requests from several states to include construction of boundary walls around cultivated land as a permissible activity under MGNREGS.
The State Government has been advised to construct ditch-cum-bund (DCB) between forest land and private holding keeping the ditch outside private land and bund inside so that the DCB will work as a mechanical barrier to wild animals till plantation attains sufficient height.
As per the advisory, plantation should be taken up in the trenches in areas having low rainfall while in high rainfall areas the plantation should be on the bund.
The tree saplings of at least 4 ft height should be used for live fencing so that it is beyond the reach of cattle.
As a few oil producing aromatic plants are found to be very effective against elephants, such varieties should be planted.
Advice of the forest and horticulture departments is desirable for selection of trees, shrubs and aromatic plants for fencing purpose, the advisory said.
Apart from acting as a deterrent to raiding wild animals, the oil extracted from the aromatic plants will provide extra bucks to the beneficiaries. The species to be selected for the fencing purpose should generate extra income for the farmers in the form of timber, fodder and fuel.
Besides, live fencing will help check soil erosion, conserve rainwater, work as wind breaks and will ultimately help upgrade the environment, the Union advisory said.
As shrubs are most suitable to fill the gap between two trees and stand as a barrier to wild animals, only economically advantageous shrubs be selected keeping an eye on their adaptability to particular climatic condition.
As per MGNREGS, plantation is permitted on lands owned by scheduled categories, BPL households or beneficiaries of land reforms.