HP farmers harvest rain, get paid under MGNREGA

Here also, 60 per cent of the schemes undertaken are related to construction of storage tanks for harvesting rain water.

"The stored water is now also used through sprinklers and drip irrigation by the individual farmers to grow vegetables and other cash crops," confirms director (agriculture) J C Rana.

Other districts, which have taken giant strides, include Chamba with 56 per cent of the MNREGA works done only under water harvesting related schemes. Hamirpur too has become a major vegetable producing district after hundreds of rain water harvesting structures and storage tanks were erected in Sujanpur, Hamirpur, Mewa, Bamson and Naduan panchayats.

Under MGNREGA, families belonging to economically weaker sections are also allowed to get job payments for building roof water harvesting structures in their homes and also on private land. Such families have done notably well in Solan, Chamba, Shimla and Kinnaur.

Contacted, R N Batta, director, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, said: "We have spent Rs 245 crore under the central job scheme till October 2012 as against Rs 219 crore during the corresponding period last year. More than 14,410 works have been completed till date."

Batta also said that the plan to get job card holders to uproot cannabis was discontinued after the Centre's objection as it did not fall under the schemes permitted under MGNREGA. "However, we are providing funds to Kullu's deputy commissioner for utilisation by the forest department and panchayats to reclaim land and go for re-plantation," he added.

Last year, nearly Rs 25 lakh was spent on destroying cannabis. The job card holders, mainly women, were engaged under MGNREGA to remove cannabis.

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