Kerala seeks more in MGNREGS

The government will demand the Centre to include agriculture, weaving and bamboo processing in MGNREGS.

Thiruvananthapuram: The state government will soon make a case before the Centre to extend the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to include within its scope traditional livelihoods from agriculture and maintenance of traditional boats to collection and processing of bamboo and weaving of khadi.

The state's rationale has three components: Asset creation, increase in productivity and improvement of livelihood options. As is existing, agriculture operations such as land preparation, ploughing, sowing, weed-removal, turning the soil, watering, harvesting, pruning and such similar operations are not permissible under MGNREGS.

The Planning Board is expected to shoot off a detailed note to the Centre seeking the inclusion of not just operations for paddy cultivation but also vegetable plantation works and watershed activities in lands owned by small and marginal farmers in the state. “In order to encourage the farming community to utilize small holding for cultivation this flexibility will be of great help,” a top Finance Department official said.

The Finance Department, after Thomas Isaac took over, has argued for the inclusion of a new set of occupations within the scheme: Dairying and fodder cultivation (the sector has inherent problems like declining cattle population, limited land holdings and decline in availability of fodder); net making and mending for fishing in coastal areas and maintenance of traditional boats (coastal areas have low human development index.

Traditional fishing communities are vulnerable to natural calamities during monsoon); collection of reed and bamboo, processing of reeds and creation of value-added products in bamboo; and spinning, weaving, adding dye and other Khadi-related activities.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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