Thrust on water savings

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Patna: Bihar has taken up water conservation work using the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) funds in a promising way after Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent a letter to all the states in April to take up conservation to help farmers.

“We have completed 3,202 such projects and Rs 220 crore has been spent on the works,” a senior official in the rural development department, the nodal department for implementing MGNREGA in the state, told The Telegraph.

He added that the works had been taken up in accordance with the suggestions stated in the letter that had come from the Prime Minister’s Office.

The official said around 3,000 more such projects were in the pipeline and those would be completed soon. The works, which are being done include watershed management, water conservation and renovation of traditional water bodies among others. The PM’s letter also talked of desiltation of irrigation ponds so that those could store more water.

“As MGNREGA funds cannot be used for carrying out such works in private ponds, we have selected government ponds under this head and de-siltation work is being done in five to 10 such ponds in every district,” said the official.

The official said that in addition to the initiatives, the MGNREGA funds was being used for water conservation titled Infrastructure for Climate Resilient Growth (ICRG), which is being implemented in the state to mitigate the adverse impact of climate change. UK’s department for international development (DFID) is providing technical assistance to the state.

The Telegraph had earlier reported about ICRG, which is being implemented in 35 blocks of West Champaran, Muzaffarpur, Madhubani, Begusarai, Katihar, Banka, Nalanda and Gaya. It would cover 3,076 villages spread over 522 panchayats of the selected blocks. “We are executing 153 model projects under the ICRG so that other districts too could replicate them,” said the official.

He added that for the first time drone was being used for executing a watershed project in Gaya and at present experts from IIT-Kanpur were surveying using drones.

The rural development department official said planning for the 2019-20 fiscal year too would commence soon and the state would maintain the tempo of water conservation work through MGNREGA funds in the coming year too.

Source: The Telegraph India

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