Has MGNREGA assets benefitted the beneficiaries? A reality check

NREGA assets :Well Construction

Wells constructed under MGNREGA have contributed immensely for the enhancement of agriculture. We came across some onetime migrant labourers whose barren lands were transformed into productive agriculture lands with the construction of these wells. Wells also seem to have a positive impact on farming period. Some farmers who used to cultivate only during one season in the past testified that after the construction of the wells they started cultivating at least two seasons a year

Rameshwar Guhe (Sakadehi GP in Betul, Madhya Pradhesh )

Rameshwar Guhe (Sakadehi GP in Betul, Madhya Pradhesh ) had left his 3 acre land uncultivated due to acute water scarcity. He used to migrate to nearby cities in search of work. In 2009, a well was constructed in his land under MGNREGA and from then on he is able to cultivate his land. He is now engaged in agriculture for eight months a year and relies on MGNREGA work for the rest of the year.`` MGNREGA is a real blessing for me. Now I don’t have to migrate in search of work. I sell produce worth Rs 75,000 a year. And when I cannot do agriculture, I depend on MGNREGA work’’ Rameshwar who has also completed hundred days of MGNREGA work asserts that he could make meaningful contributions to his children’s education through his earnings from MGNREGA and agriculture. ``I have five children and I have invested most of my earnings in my children’s education. Without MGNREGA it would have been impossible for me to support their education’’

Mamata Dhruve, an ST beneficiary

Mamata Dhruve, an ST beneficiary from the same GP also shares a similar experience. She and her husband who were migrant labourers few years before now depends on agriculture to make a living. `` We have 3 acres of land . We do agriculture in one and half acres and rest of the land has been given for lease. Our lives have improved significantly after the construction of the well. I have earned around Rs 50,000 from agriculture in the previous year’’. According to her, the well has played vital role in the betterment of her children’s education. `` We were migrant labourers and we could not send our children to school as they also came along with us whenever we migrated. But now things have changed. We do not migrate anymore and we send them to a local school here. Also, we are able make vital contributions to their education from the money we earn from agriculture’’

Anju sharma( from Batkidoh Gram Panchayat, Ghora Dongri block ,Betul, Madhya Pradhesh)

For Anju sharma( from Batkidoh Gram Panchayat, Ghora Dongri block ,Betul, Madhya Pradhesh) the well under MGNREGA is not only a boon for agriculture but also for drinking water. The very thought of not needing to walk 2km to fetch drinking water brings great relief to her. She now grows channa, palak, cauliflower etc in her half acre land which was left uncultivated prior to the construction of the well. Moreover she is maintaining a nursery of vegetable seedlings to help her neighbours for whom agriculture still remains a daunting task due to acute water scarcityI grow the seedlings here and distribute them to three of my neighbours. The well has helped not only for our survival but also for the survival of those three families’’ she says.

Harju, a migrant labourer from (Dhamnakurdh, Chirgaon, Jhansi,Uttar Pradhesh)

Harju, a migrant labourer from (Dhamnakurdh, Chirgaon, Jhansi,Uttar Pradhesh) also approves the fact that the well he got under MGNREGA could significantly improve his agriculture. ``After the construction of well in my 1 care land in 2009, I could undertake agriculture in two seasons unlike in the past’’

Vayankat Bhiram from Pandurni GP

Vayankat Bhiram from Pandurni GP, Mukhed block, Nanded, could make rapid progress in agriculture with help of the well he constructed under MGNREGA . `` Prior to the construction of well , I was able to cultivate my 5 acre land only in one season ,rest of the year I used to work as agriculture labourer. Now I cultivate two seasons a year. With my income from agriculture previous year, I could renovate my house and could purchase bullocks for agriculture ‘’says Vyankat .