New Delhi: The ministry of rural development, in collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation’s National Remote Sensing Centre, has geo-tagged 10 million assets and listed them publicly in a bid to silence criticism that the national rural employment guarantee scheme (NREGS) does not produce durable assets.
“The scale of rural assets created under MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) is very large. Since the inception of the programme in financial year 2006-07, about 2.82 crore assets have been created under the programme,” a rural development ministry statement said.
“On an average, about 30 lakh assets are created annually which includes a variety of works such as water harvesting structures, plantations, rural infrastructure, flood control measures, individual assets for sustainable livelihood, community infrastructure and so on. The process of geo-tagging is going on and all assets under MGNREGS will be geo-tagged. Special focus is being given to geo-tag Natural Resource Management works especially the water related works,” the statement said.
Launched in 2006, the rural employment programme has been a key source of livelihood for millions of rural households. It guarantees up to 100 days of unskilled work in a year to one member of every rural household and was credited with raising rural household incomes. The programme which saw a record spending of Rs58,000 crores in 2016-17, has been allocated Rs 48,000 crores in the 2017-18 budget by finance minister Arun Jaitley.
One of the criticisms against the programme, which has been largely lauded for reducing poverty and providing jobs to unskilled labour, is that it has created assets like village ponds that have no durability.
Geotagging the assets i.e. identifying via satellite technology the check dams, village ponds and other such assets created under the programme provides for credible verification of the work done under the MGNREGA. One of the perennial complaints against the programme has been that the work done under the MGNREGA does not result in durable assets being created.
“GeoMGNREGA is a unique endeavor of the Ministry of Rural Development in association with National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), ISRO and National Informatics Centre. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Ministry of Rural Development with NRSC on 24th June 2016 for geo-tagging the assets created under MGNREGS in each gram panchayat. Strength of Space technology has been leveraged,” the rural development ministry statement said.
“The geo-tagging exercise started from 1st September, 2016. One crore assets have been geo-tagged and put in public domain in the last seven months. It is expected that the exercise will lead to greater transparency and ensure accountability at field level,” the statement added.