In view of its ambitious target to provide tapwater connections to all rural households by 2024, the government will now focus on source sustainability through river rejuvenation and water harvesting works under the MGNREGA scheme.
The Ministry of Rural Development has asked states to focus on works related to water conservation while preparing the MGNREGA labour budget for the 2020-21 financial year.
Issuing guidelines for planning works and preparation of labour budget under the MGNREGA, the ministry has said there should be a “special focus on water harvesting and water conservation, including river rejuvenation”.
According to sources, special emphasis will be laid on water conservation in 2,129 identified rural blocks, 1,593 of which are water-stressed. In such blocks, the maximum amount of labour budget will be spent on management of natural resources, including water conservation.
Depending on objectives of the government of the day, MGNREGA, over the years, has seen convergence with the several schemes such as rural housing and sanitation. The focus on work related to natural resource management, particularly water conservation and river rejuvenation, is in the same direction. As the government is preparing to provide the tapwater connections to all rural households, there is again a need for MGNREGA convergence with an emphasis on water harvesting to ensure source sustainability.
Water conservation works will be taken up in the convergence with central government-funded schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana and Integrated Watershed Management Programme. Apart from water conservation works under MGNREGA, activities related to solid liquid waste management and upgradation of Grameen Haats (village markets) will also be taken up during the 2020-21 financial year.