Empowerment guaranteed

Print edition : October 08, 2010

THE Kshetra Darshini project of the State government promises to usher in a mini Green Revolution in the parched, naxal-dominated areas of Palnadu. A joint effort of the departments of Horticulture, Agriculture, Social Forestry and the District Rural Development Agency, the project seeks to make fallow lands in Guntur district cultivable and empower landless Dalits in the process. It is a component of Indira Prabha, or the Comprehensive Land Development Project (CLDP), under the aegis of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

About 3,000 landless Dalits are being given title deeds for 6,935 acres of assigned, fallow lands. This is the biggest project in the history of the district to develop fallow lands, District Collector B. Ramanjaneyulu told Frontline. The Collector's sanction for the project was announced at a public meeting in Madipadu on February 23, where 149 beneficiaries were given ownership deeds for land measuring 324.35 acres in all.

The district administration had also released a schedule for completion of the project by the third week of August, and this has been accomplished. Forest clearance, removal of boulders, ploughing, digging of farm ponds and borewells and electrification were completed by April. Personnel from the departments of Horticulture and Agriculture trained the people in sowing and cultivating crops by adopting water conservation methods.

The District Water Management Agency (DWMA), which was the nodal agency for implementation, had selected the most backward mandals in the district Atchampet, Vinukonda, Durgi and Bollapalli for the project.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the landless Dalits. The government would bear the entire cost of the project from clearing the land to the beneficiary getting the first produce, said Y.D Yugandhar, Project Director, DWMA.

The DWMA, Guntur is implementing three programmes the MGNREGS, the CLDP and watershed projects.

The MGNREGS was launched on April 1, 2007, in 57 mandals of Guntur district. The works are being taken up in a project mode. The total number of job cards are 5,47,891. The average number of days of employment provided for a household is 20.93 and the average wage rate per person per day is Rs.107.46 As many as 1,797 households got work for 100 days.

The watershed programme was started in 2001-02. As many as 71 watersheds were sanctioned to Guntur district. The CLDP was launched in Sarikondapalem village in Bollapalli mandal in November 2004. This programme, funded by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), is to be implemented in three phases.

P. Samuel Jonathan

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