NREGA can pave the way for second Green Revolution

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New Delhi, Oct 30 (ANI): The Government is hopeful that the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and its work in the areas of water management and crop enhancement would lead the country to a second Green Revolution.

While inaugurating a conference on 'NREGA for Water Management' at Observer Research Foundation here on Friday, Secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development Dr. Rita Sharma said: "It may be a wild thought now but the first Green Revolution came about as a result of very high water guzzling cropping systems from the irrigated regions of the country. But the NREGA holds the trigger for a second Green Revolution from the rain-fed areas, but using water conserving technologies and working with the smaller and poorer farmers while the first Revolution came from the big farmers."

Explaining the role and scope of NREGA in water management, Dr. Sharma said the SRI (System of Rice Intensification) technique, being popularized by NREGA, would help in crop enhancement by cutting the usage of water by one-third.RI technique is being used in the cultivation of wheat and other crops as well by the farmers themselves and the significant productivity increases could be stimulated, leading to another food revolution, Dr. Sharma informed.

She said the Government provides highest priority to water conservation in the choice of works under NREGA and the nature of works undertaken is such that it leads to creation of 'green jobs'.

The Secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development revealed that the expenditure on the NREGA is estimated to go up to Rs. 50,000 crore in 2009-10, giving employment to 5.5 crore rural people out of which 52 per cent are women.

The average wage rate would also increase from the present Rs. 84 per day in the previous financial year to Rs. 89 in the current financial year, she added. r. Sharma said the scheme increased the bargaining power of the rural people in the employment market, but some activist said it led to distortion in the wage market.

She also underlined the need for better convergence among the implementing agencies of the government and also the supply and demand side to achieve better impact. She said there was a need to make it more scientific.

However, analysts and activists drew a different picture of lack of proper planning, lack of training, lack of assessment of the quality of work done, lack of supervision, lack of proper knowledge leading to ill-conceived, hap-hazard planning, which hinder proper water management under the scheme.

Former Cabinet Secretary Surendra Singh, who chaired the inaugural session, opted to draw Government's attention towards better audit, proper training and capacity building for the purpose of achieving better results.

Noting that the demand for water in India would increase by 2.3 times more by 2025 according to the estimates of the Central Water Commission, Surendera Singh also stressed the need for a better management of water resources.

The sessions was chaired by noted authority on water management, Dr. Ramaswamy R Iyer, who said the UPA Government would be known in history for the NREGA and the RTI (Right to Information Act). (ANI)

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