The state government has undertaken a major enrolment drive under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) to check migration from drought-hit talukas to neighbouring towns and cities.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has directed district collectors to step up enrolment under MNREGA, especially in rural Maharashtra, to ensure people earn minimum daily wages.
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At least 24,000 villages across the state have been affected by drought, with Marathwada, parts of Vidarbha, northern and western Maharashtra worst hit.
“There is a clear directive from the chief minister to all the district collectors and revenue officials at taluka levels to take MNREGA jobs to each and every individual in rural areas that are adversely affected by drought,” a senior officer in the revenue ministry, who did not wish to be named, said.
To increase enrolment, the state government reportedly has also relaxed existing guidelines and expanded its scope to include water conservation projects.
While conceding that the four-phase elections in state for 48 Lok Sabha seats had affected enrolment under MNREGA between March and April – the elections in Maharashtra were held between April 1 to 29, while the model code came into effect on March 10 – revenue ministry, along with the ministries of water conservation, agriculture, water resources and finance, is reworking its plans to expand their out reach. District officials reportedly have been asked to shortlist projects that can be delivered during summer months with increased manpower in drought region.
So far, one lakh projects have already been identified across 8,418 villages under the state government’s flagship Jalyukt Shivar scheme.