The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) has now been extended to individual private lands, for undertaking field-related work. “For the first time in the State, Vellore district has taken the lead in extending the services of MGNREGS to individual private lands to benefit small and marginal farmers,” noted N Srinivasan, project director of the District Rural Development Agency.
N Sampath Naidu of Natham hamlet, attached to the Melalathur village in Gudiyattam block, became the first small farmer to utilise the services of the scheme for cutting an irrigation channel on his land.
Collector Sankar who inaugurated the scheme at Sampath Naidu’s lands on Thursday, said the demand of farmers in this regard had been fulfilled. Around 20 workers of the village enrolled in the scheme would be involved in completing the work in 273 man-days, at a cost of `40,500.
Hitherto, most of the works under this scheme were being carried out on common land to improve water conservation and harvesting, drought proofing, including afforestation and plantation, building irrigation canals, renovation of traditional water bodies, desilting of tanks, land development, flood control and protection works including drainage in water logged areas and rural connectivity to provide all weather access.
From common lands, the scheme had been extended to government lands in February this year when work was undertaken at the Navlak government farm in Ranipet at `1.17 lakh. Job card holders of the scheme from Thengal and Navlak villages had constructed a farm pond at a cost of `82,000 and a channel at a cost of `35,250 as of now. Now, another four works are in progress.
According to Srinivasan, around 2.8 lakh farmers belonging to SC/ST communities, small and marginal categories had been identified in the district spread across 20 blocks, with a land holding of 1.6 lakh hectares, as beneficiaries from the extension of the scheme to private lands. This would cover watershed development related works (contour bunding, trenching, underground dyke, earthen dam, farm ponds) agriculture related (composting, bunding) livestock related (shelter for poultry, goat, cattle, feed supplement), the total cost of work not exceeding `1.5 lakh per farmer. The selection of work and the farmer would be decided by the respective villages through the gram sabha and the proposals in this regard would be rooted through the agriculture/horticulture department. The MGNREGS was introduced in Vellore district in 2008-09 and around 4.5 lakh families have been enrolled so far. As of now, 7.7 lakh job cards had been issued to the beneficiaries.