150 days work under MGNREGA for STs in Forest Areas

The Ministry of Rural Development has issued a directive to provide 150 days of wage employment under MGNREGA for Scheduled Tribe households living in forest areas. The move will benefit about Eight lakh people in the states like Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, The additional 50 days of employment beyond the stipulated 100 days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) will be applicable to those individuals who got pattas under Forest Rights Act, FRA( 2006). Approximately, 14 lakh individual and community titles have been distributed under FRA 2006. Of these around 8 lakh individual titles have been given in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa. It is these individuals who will be able to claim the benefit of 150 days.

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The Ministry of Rural Development thinks that this is an important initiative since a lot of land-levelling, plantation and other activities are required to be undertaken on these lands to make them more productive. The additional days through MGNREGA will allow the households to undertake additional work on their own land. Further, FRA beneficiaries have already been automatically included for assistance under the Indira Awaas Yojana.

ther initiatives for ensuring effective implementation of MGNREGA in naxal affected areas have also been taken like a convergence project with National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) in 250 most backward blocks of the country. Several of these ST-dominated blocks are located in Naxal districts. The Ministry has also allowed for cash payments of wages in 88 Integrated Action Plan (IAP) districts. To proactively register demand, the Ministry has launched Kaam Maango Abhiyan and the project is being implemented in 6 pilot districts including West Singhbhum in Jharkhand and is being upscaled to all naxal affected areas.

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Morever, it has initiated the Governance and Accelerated Livelihood Support project in collaboration with UNDP in 12 naxal affected districts and they are Latehar, Palamu, Gumla and West Singhbhum in Jharkhand, Malkangiri, Koraput, Nuapada and Kalahandi in Odisha and Sukma, Bijapur, Narayanpur, Balrampur in Chhattisgarh. The Project will focus on livelihood assets creation through MGNREGA IN 500 Gram Panchayats in these districts.

Finally, new works have been added to the existing list of permissible works under MGNREGA with a focus to strengthen synergy between MGNREGA and rural livelihoods, particularly in agriculture. Besides ensuring durable quality assets, the expansion of MGNREGA works is likely to improve the socio-economic condition of marginalized section of the society like SC/ST, Small and Marginal farmers, IAY beneficiaries, Forest Right Act beneficiaries etc as most of the new works are now permitted on the land or homestead of specified individual beneficiaries.

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