Ranchi, June 25 (IANS) Jharkhand used the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) to create one lakh small water bodies to conserve water and irrigate fields in a period of just 60 days, said an official on Saturday.
“We have successfully constructed one lakh small water bodies with jobs that are generated (under the act) to conserve water in the fields so that farmers can use it for irrigation,” N.N. Sinha, Principal Secretary of the Rural Development Department, told IANS.
These water bodies are expected to irrigate about 50,000 acres of arable land, Sinha said.
Currently, only 22 per cent of cultivable land in Jharkhand is under some form of irrigation system. Erratic rainfall leads to destruction of crops in unirrigated areas of the state which is currently experiencing drought.
Water conservation is thus a cause for concern for the Rural Development Department which has been using NREGA work to construct small water bodies of various sizes.
Sinha said the overall target is to construct about six lakh small water bodies in the state, but work has had to be suspended due to monsoon rains.
The target until June 20 was to construct 1.20 lakh water bodies of which one lakh were actually constructed, he said.
The shortfall has been on account of a number of factors, including “some irregularities” in construction work, he admitted.
“There were few examples of JCB machines being used instead of getting work done from the labourers,” he said.
The department, Sinha said, will do mango plantation on 400 hectares of land in this financial year from NREGA work.
The target for the next financial year would be to plant mangoes on 20,000 to 25,000 hectares of land, he said.
The department has also been getting fisheries production done under NREGA.
Statistics show that the uptake of NREGA work more than doubled in first two months of financial year 2016-17 in Jharkhand, presumably on account of drought.