The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) has been a boon for the ruralfolk of Tripura, as many other states. The construction of a 2-kilometer long stretch of earthen road in a tiny village in Tripura has made the women very happy, not only because it allows them to travel to the market faster, but also because it allows them the opportunity to take home an income in an area with few other options.
The scheme allows them to earn about Rs.85 per day. This income is less compared to what a man can earn as a daily wages as a skilled (Rs.200 per day) or even an unskilled worker (Rs.120-150 per day). So while the scheme might need some changes to appeal to the men, the women have been the major beneficiaries. Ratna Bharali Talukdar writes in India Together:
“There is no work available for women. The two kilometre road construction work under NREGA gave us the opportunity to work and earn something. But it was completed before the state assembly election. After the election, we are looking forward to more jobs under the scheme,” said Piranjay Debbarma, a senior woman of the village.
Be it for an increase in the family income or a crucial tool for living, Tripura engages a substantial number of women in NREGA projects as compared to other northeastern states. In some pockets like Jirania and Dukli blocks, participation of women in NREGA works is amazing.
The beauty of the scheme is the dual purpose it serves. Not only does it provide employment to the rural population, it also helps in building the infrastructure of these areas.
The state records construction of 6,716 kilometres of road under NREGA projects in 2007-08. In Dhalai, another 962.66 kilometres have been constructed during that year. Justifying the major thrust on road construction, the minister says that while road construction is a permanent asset building process aimed at accelerating developmental activities at grassroots, the state government has set a target that every hamlet having a population of 250 will be covered with a blacktopping road within next two years.
“Ensuring person days is not the sole objective of Tripura model of NREGA implementation. Our thrust also rests on creation of permanent assets in the state”, Pandey says.
Besides road construction, the NREGA has also been able to build capacities in water conservation, water harvesting, micro-irrigation works, fisheries, land development, flood control and protection, culverts and RCC bridges. We hope many more Governement schemes have such positive impact on the underserved.
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Image Courtesy: India Together