Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation and Commissioner Office MGNREGS, the Government of Maharashtra signed an MoU to jointly implement a project titled ‘A High Impact Mega Watershed Project’. The project’s objective is to double the farmers’ income thereby bringing prosperity to the poor, tribal, and other vulnerable households. 

Leveraging MGNREGS funds, the project will be implemented in 28 selected blocks of six districts of Vidarbha region through appropriate land and water treatment measures . The project is expected to double the income of at least one lakh small and marginal households on a sustainable basis.

The High Impact Mega Watershed Project would integrate the effective implementation of MGNREGS in watershed mode with an assumption of “Create assets today, bring prosperity tomorrow”. The project would include proper net planning (hydrological and ridge to valley approach through applying GIS mapping), active community participation from inception to implementation, capacity building of Gram Panchayats, the main Programme Implementing Agencies (PIA) under MGNREGS, and project implementation in the most deprived and resource-poor geographies of the state.

Shantanu Goel, Commissioner MGNREGS, Government of Maharashtra, said, “With the objective of making every farmer/landless labour, Lakhpati (net income of ₹1 lakh per annum) whatever funds are needed within the framework of MGNREGS, it would be made available under MGNREGS, by Govt. of India and Govt. of Maharashtra. On an average per year, ₹7.14 crore are available for each taluka for the development work under MGNREGS in the last two years. A similar amount can be made available if proper planning of work under MGNREGS is taken and executed accordingly”

Under this project, community irrigation and water conservation structures like Mazi Malgujari Talav, percolation tanks, storage tanks, and check Dam will be taken up for restoration as well as individual irrigation assets like irrigation wells, farm ponds will also be created.

Other focus areas

The project will not be limited to creating irrigation assets, but would also be available for income-generating activities like horticulture plantation, sericulture, and other allied activities like cattle and poultry sheds. The project will train 800 Rojgaar Sahayaks and 6,000 PRI and SHG members for effective planning and implementation of DPRs and livelihood plans. It aims to achieve 65 per cent of MGNREGS expenditure on natural resource management, 60 per cent of MGNREGS expenditure on the creation of individual assets, and 60  per cent of MGNREGS expenditure on agriculture and allied activities in the targeted block.

Pramathesh Ambasta, Chief Executive Officer, BRLF, said, “The project will enhance social capital through community collectives, progressive farmers, and agro-entrepreneurs. It will empower Gram Sabhas/Panchayati Raj Institutions while improving the democratic processes of these institutions to drive the village development processes and facilitate better access to the MGNREGS scheme. The project will drive the effective implementation of MGNREGS through the active participation of the community in the planning and execution of works.”

He further added, “As is evident through our other similar projects in states like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and West Bengal with a consortium of stakeholders representing various government departments, CSR, and civil society organisations, this project will work towards ensuring 100 per cent of the natural resource management assets that are linked with gainful livelihoods of the vulnerable groups.”