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Rural employment schemes a boon for West Bengal villagers

By Mamatha

Kolkata, Aug 20 (ANI): Rural folk living on the outskirts of Kolkata have welcomed the various employment opportunities generated through financial aid by the Government social schemes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and the Swarnajayanti Gram Sarojgar Yojana (SGSY).

The villages here are witnessing a slow, but steady impact of various poverty alleviation schemes being implemented by Panchayats (village councils) and West Bengal's Rural Development Department.

The formation of self-help groups (SHG) along with several others, have economically bolstered the entire area, empowering women in various fields.

According to the latest figures, around 6,604 families are availing the benefits of various poverty alleviation schemes, including income generation projects and micro-credit programmes.

"The approach is still good and it should be welcome by all. Because, now people have the right to ask for work to the local self-government, like Panchayat (village council); they can go to Panchayat and ask for work," said Achin Chakravorty, a professor of the Institute of Development Studies, who conducts workshops with villagers.

"If local government cannot give work within 50 days, then they are supposed to give unemployment allowance, and there are fussing about it, but by and large, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) has made some impact on rural poverty," he added.

The woman groups here have set up small businesses with the help of financial aid that include fishing, fish cultivation and sapling planting, which are generating income and making them self-dependent.

The village councils are implementing the schemes through untied funds and this structure has been yielding good results. "Village council authority gave me the fishing net. I am using it to catch fish and earn a living, and through this when I sell them in the market I get Rs 30 to 50 per day. Whatever help I am getting from the authority is benefiting me a lot," said Purnima Gayan, a local.

The NREGA aims at enhancing the livelihood of people living in the rural areas by guaranteeing hundred days of wage-employment in a financial year, in exchange for unskilled manual work. (ANI)

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