The National Consortium of Civil Society Organisations on MGNREGA held its national meeting between September 14 and 16, 2011, at New Delhi. As part of the meeting, the second report of the Consortium was released to the nation by Mr. Jairam Ramesh, Hon’ble Minister for Rural Development, Government of India, in a special function held at the India International Centre Auditorium, on the 15th of September. Dr Mihir Shah, Member, Planning Commission, was the Guest of Honour. The meeting was attended by more than 100 delegates from around 80 civil society organisations across 12 states.
Mr. Jairam Ramesh, Hon’ble Minister for Rural Development released the second report of the National Consortium on MGNREGA to the nation in a special function organized at the India International Centre, New Delhi, 15th September 2011. Dr. Mihir Shah, Member, Planning Commission, was the Guest of Honour at the function.
Shri Jairam Ramesh, in his address, made several references to the Second Report of the Consortium, voicing his agreement with most of the recommendations put forward by the Consortium. He said that inputs from the report had gone into the making of the Ministry’s note on MGNREGA reforms put up on its website recently. He said MGNREGA had worked to put local governance institutions in charge, enable women to participate in decision making and in the work force and also mainstream social audit. Pramathesh Ambasta, National Coordinator of the Consortium, set the ball rolling on the day-long event with an overall summing up of the opportunities, challenges and the road ahead for the largest employment guarantee scheme in human history.What followed was a day full of rich interactions between grassroot delegates, Dr Shah and Mr Ramesh.
Dr. Shah emphasised that the role of the consortium has been on building partnerships and there have been numerous instances where such partnerships have borne tremendous results. He however cautioned participants against adopting an approach which was closed to partnerships or unwilling to listen to voices from government, panchayats. He pointed to some important developments and the expectations and issues that MGNREGA has raised and said that some of the issues that need to be debated are whether, if at all, MGNREGA should be extended to agricultural operations at all. Dr. Shah pointed out that civil society and government in partnership could yield very fruitful results for MGNREGA. He said that in order to enable this, a reform of institutions like CAPART is very necessary
Consortium partners from Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha made presentations on the problems the programme faces in their respective operating areas and suggested solutions. Dr Anurag Yadav, Additional Commissioner of the Department for Rural Development, Uttar Pradesh, presented his case for why the state has not been able to reap the full potential of the scheme despite best intentions, and offered a peek into how things could change for the better in the near future.
Consortium partners from the Megh Pyne Abhiyan (MPA) and Samaj Pragati Sahayog (SPS) made their case for using the immense resources of MGNREGA in addressing the arsenic and iron-poisoning that makes hand-pump water undrinkable during the floods. The Watershed team of Consortium partner Samaj Pragati Sahayog, Madhya Pradesh, took their arguments forward and appraised the audience of the results of their field surveys in the districts of Khagariya and West Champaran. By way of short-term solutions atleast, MGNREGA funds could be used to repair and foster the embankments besides maintaining the sluice gates; revitalising the traditional drainage channels through community participation could be a long-term one, the SPS team said.