Mizoram Doing Wonders With Rural Job Scheme

By K. Balchand

MNREGS has given them the leeway to club a number of schemes

Primary importance is attached to construction of roads

Aizawl, Nov 15 : The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) has been adopted as a community work by the well-knit, classless society in Mizoram.

Unlike in other States, people in Mizoram do not apply for jobs; it is the village council or local administration which sends out invitations to each household to send at least one job card holder to execute the work in their village or area.

The village council, an elected body, has been created under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and exercises control at the grassroots level. However, dissolution of some of these councils falling within the jurisdiction of the capital city of Aizawl is on the cards now with its transition towards governance through a municipal body. The first election to its 19 wards was held earlier in the week.
Mizoram National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme

The proposal for dissolution of some of the councils is meeting opposition not because almost 40 per cent of the State’s population inhabit its capital but also because it plays a crucial role in the life of the small population of 10 lakh Mizos who are otherwise sparsely spread on the treacherous though beautiful terrain of this mountainous State.

In villages, however, the councils are evolving the development process with greater ingenuity, particularly after the introduction of MNREGS which has given them the leeway to club a number of schemes.

A case in point is Sakeiram—Tiger Land. Sakei means tiger in Mizo language and Ram stands for land as in the case of Mizoram–land of the Mizos. More than 700 men and women of all ages are collectively cutting a 6-km pathway in the mountains with the objective of setting up an altogether new locality in Serchhip district. The village council had issued a call and the job card holders responded as if they were taking up a community work. Of course, the wage rate is Rs.110 per person day.

It sure is a multipurpose road suggestive of a unique model of convergence of various schemes taken up with the idea of not only linking Thensal village with the main road but also to facilitate construction of an AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) hospital, ring in a new mode of agriculture and give a fillip to horticulture and floriculture.

Several programs are thus clubbed, but primary importance is attached to construction of roads. MGNREGS doubles up even with Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY) as the hilly terrains are still inaccessible.

Horticulture and floriculture are among the schemes permitted under the MGNREGS to develop the land of BPL and Scheduled Tribes households. This is being used to wean them away from jhum cultivation which typifies the shifting cultivation.

To save ecology, the government last week launched a New Land Use Policy (NLUP) with the promise to provide at least two hectares to 1.2 lakh families over the next three years. The government also intends to provide help to develop their land for tilling purpose. With people living on the higher slopes of the mountain, water is a major problem despite several rivers crisscrossing the State. MGNREGS has come in handy for taking up water conservation schemes. It is being combined with other structures for setting up reservoirs.

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