Himachal Pradesh government relaxes NREGA scheme for roadside tree plantation activities

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By:Mohan Lal Verma

Himachal Pradesh government has enforced new National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) for roadside tree plantation activities with centre’s nod of removing 100 workdays condition.

Under NREGA, 100 days employment guarantee is ensured across the country while after the state submitted the proposal to induct the roadside plantation activity under NREGA and to remove the condition of 100 days, the centre approved the proposal.

Now, NREGA workers would do not only do tree plantation but also take care of protection and care of planted tree. Rural development Minister Anil Sharma said it would beautify the Himachal besides increasing green cover and soil conservation. He also added that 100 days were not sufficient for plantation and protection besides other developmental work, so condition of 100 days have been relaxed for this activity.

As far as the wages are concerned, a centre government’s note read that as and when the household completed 100 days; the muster for the rest of the period would be issued as a semi-skilled work, and paid from the material component. To curb the irregularities, measurement would include number of the plants surviving and number of plants for which the notified tasks have been completed.

For conducting plantation activities, plant material would be procured and self-help groups and government nurseries would raise nurseries. The selection of tree species is to be done by the community in consultation with the local gram panchayat and forest and horticulture departments, considering the suitability and availability of plants for arid and dry region, moist areas, marshy areas and saline areas.

There are a number of roads including national, state highways, Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) and other rural roads, where roadside plantation is being done, but because of limitation of funds for plantation and maintenance of plantation under the respective schemes, most of the roads cannot be covered under the plantation. Road side plantation will not only create productive assets but will also check the deterioration of roads and will contribute to strengthen the ecological balance and reducing global warming, said a government official.