The National Consultation was called Vasantrao Naik Charchasatra. was the Chief Minister of Maharashtra when the Employment Guarantee Act was passed in the State Assemby. The consultation was named after him as a mark of respect. The consultation was also dedicated to the memory of who was MLA, and Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha President and conceptualized and designed the basic Employment Guarantee Act and Scheme. These two great individuals were honoured as the architects of the programme. The Chief Guest for the consultation was Dr. Nitin Raut, Minister, EGS, Government of Mahrastra.
Ms. Vimala Ramesh, Dy. Secy, EGS, GoM gave the welcome address. The dignitaries on the dais then lit a lamp and garlanded photos of Vasantrao Naik and VS Page. Pramathesh Ambasta, Convener of National Consortium of Civil Society Organisations on MGNREGA introduced the Consortium. He briefly spoke on the objective and functioning of the Consortium. Through 72 Civil Society Organisations in around 11 States working on MGNREGA, the Consortium is involved in policy reform as well as working on strengthening MGNREGA on the ground. National Consultations at Delhi and State Consultation in Bihar, Orissa have been useful in taking forward the issues in implementation. The Reports of the Consortium were made available to the gathering.
Hon’ble Minister, EGS, GoM, Dr Nitin Raut said that Maharashtra state has successfully progressed from spending around 350 crores to around 1500 crores this year in just three years, but a lot more needs to be done. We are still working on our administration and we realize that our planning for works is weak. Strengthening water resources of good quality is our priority but it is not yet getting translated into planning. We are facing a severe drought situation. Our EGS helped us fight the 1972 drought and now we are going through a similar situation and now MGNREGA is helping us address this drought. We need CSO to give us feedback, to make us aware of our mistakes. He said that on behalf of the government he is ready to take any strong criticism since criticizm will help things to improve
Session I: Drought and MGNREGA in Maharashtra: Status
Mr. V. Giriraj, Principal Secretary EGS, GoM spoke on Drought and MGNREGA in Maharashtra: Current Status, Challenges and Expectations from the Consultation. He said that there is a drought in 123 Blocks out of the 355 blocks and in 7000 out of the 25000-plus villages in Maharashtra. This is a severe drought, leading to acute shortage of drinking water and fodder. Water sources are dwindling rapidly, which can further intensify the severity. Implementation of an effective MGNREGA programme requires multiple players, at multiple levels, from multiple departments of the administration. Hence coordination is vital. Any missing link or weak link leads to inefficiency There are three objectives of the programme – wage employment; creation of durable assets and empowerment of Gram Panchayats. The problems being faced are – inadequate staff; getting weekly measurements done given the distances to be travelled, and, since the staff belongs to a different cadre there is no single line of command for communication and planning. Observing that the future of MGNREGA is in developing dryland agriculture, the team required for this is a challenge. Knowledge and skill training is essential. The programme is seasonal in nature and hence understanding its rhythm in various regions is crucial to effective planning. He said that presently it is very difficult to anticipate demand. A robust channel of communication is required and possibilities are being explored by the state government. The feedback we get is impressionistic. It is important to analyse whether the stated problem is systemic or local; is it mismanagement or communication failure or is it policy failure? Wage earner feedback is at its weakest today. Presently, 18 blocks constitute 25% of the total persondays generated and 60 Blocks constitute 50% of the total persondays generated. Hence the focus is on these 60 Blocks. In a nutshell, he concluded that support is required in the following areas:
- planning of works
- quality execution of works
- community participation
- Convergence, which is a felt need
- Real impact in terms of Soil and Water Conservation