Sunday, February 10, 2008

NREGA - an untapped weapon in landslide prevention

Like the Right to Information Act (RTI Act-2005) , the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA-2005) is perhaps one of the most progressive pieces of legislation in recent years because it provides a legal guarantee for one hundred days of employment in every financial year to adult members of any rural household willing to do unskilled manual work at the statutory minimum wage.
But like the RTI, the NREGA also, may have its problems in implementation.
Notwithstanding all the pessimism that goes along with all such things, I have seen it action in my own little village (Bara Bhalukhop) where a new road is being constructed by village folk and the progress which is being made is phenomenal.
But here is where I begin to have differences, whereas the NREGA places tremendous resources in terms of manpower, raw material and funding in our hands; yet all of it is going only towards construction of new roads (in Kalimpong subdivision at least) which itself are a source for new landslides.

(Slide 1 shows Pashyor/Chibo area, Kalimpong from the opposite hills ie Soreng. The scale of devastation is quite apparent from the photograph. Slide 2 is a closeup of one of the major jhoras or mountain rivulet in Pashyor, 5th mile, Kalimpong which is responsible for much of the destruction- as can be seen no preventive work has been done here for decades. Slide 3 shows construction of a new road in the same area where there is tremendous damage by landslides year after year... makes me wonder why, the same resources were not diverted towards landslide prevention first)

Yes! roads are the arteries which nourish us but I think there should be a judicious use of the NREGA resources :-

Much, much of the NREGA schemes should be towards landslide prevention…

Perhaps then we will stop wondering like one Govt official did “where would the funds for landslide prevention come from?”

Answer: NREGA (at least partly)

for those interested, more on NREGA is available here

praful rao

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