A Workshop on the Presentation of “Impact Assessment Study of the Usefulness and Sustainability of Assets Created under MG-NREGA in Sikkim“ was organized by RM&DD in the Conference Hall of Tashiling Secretariat on 28th January 2011. The workshop was chaired by Shri Karma Gyatso, Additional Chief Secretary cum Development Commissioner and attended by officials from various line departments. In the workshop, a presentation on the findings was made by the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA) Gujarat. IRMA is a national institute of repute which specializes in research and training in Rural Management and has become a frontrunner in professionalising the development of India’s rural sector. Over the years it has provided management training, support and research facilities to students committed to rural development and in this process it has brought within its ambit several co-operatives, non-government organisations, government development agencies, international development organisations and funding agencies. The Team from IRMA, Gujarat comprised of Dr Vivek Bhandari, Director, Professor Ajay Dandekar and Professor Pratik Modi. Ms Manisha Verma, IAS Director – National Advisory Council (NAC), New Delhi was the Special Guest on this occasion.
This study was conducted during 2010, based on a questionnaire survey, case studies and focus group discussions. The findings of IRMA indicate that the State has been able to provide 100 days employment guarantee to the rural households on a large scale and exemplary work has been done. Also the program in the rural areas is perceived as a Women’s Wage Employment Program which has lead to an increase in the household incomes especially of women. Also durable and useful assets have been created in the villages of the State through MGNREGA work. There has been a reduction in local migration from rural areas as the people find employment opportunities in their villages itself. Wage payments were found to be mostly on time wherever bank accounts were being used. The successful implementation of MGNREGA scheme has also brought about an inclusive growth in the rural economy of the State. Households are utilizing this additional cash income to buy better food, sending their children to better schools, meeting their health expenditure etc which has resulted in a significant jump in the Human Development Index (HDI) in the rural areas. The concerns raised were delay in wage payments wherever post offices were being used, for which the Secretary-RMDD informed that the Financial Inclusion Project has been already launched to take care of these delays. Another concern was to have an institutional mechanism for maintenance of the assets being created, for which there is a provision in MGNREGA guidelines itself. Secretary-Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Husbandry Shri Vishal Chauhan, IAS suggested that increased emphasis on minor irrigation development and use of Quality Planting Material in horticulture plantations will help to further improve the impacts of this program.
After the presentation the Additional Chief Secretary cum Development Commissioner who chaired the meeting congratulated the Department and IRMA on the job well done and elaborated the pro-people and pro-environment polices of the State Government under the visionary leadership of the Hon’ble Chief Minister, Dr. Pawan Chamling. He further opined that MGNREGA which is a National Flagship Programme, can infact become our most potent weapon in fighting poverty by creating income generating assets for the small and marginal farmers thereby realizing the Mission of a Poverty Free Sikkim. He also warned that this is not a time to be complacent, and that there is scope for further improvement in the program implementation. He also mentioned that a system for maintenance of assets being created should be in place at the earliest and mechanisms for convergence with the various line departments should also be explored and implemented as soon as possible.
The meeting ended with a vote of thanks to the chair, the IRMA team and the participants.
Courtesy: Sikkim Mail