Amid pandemic, Himachal to revive rural economy through woman warriors

Source : IANS
Author : IANS
Last Updated: Wed, May 20th, 2020, 12:15:04hrs

The community development programme, named the Mukhya Mantri 1 Bigha Scheme, will be launched by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Thursday.

It is linked with the Centre's ambitious Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) where a woman or her family who owns a land up to one bigha (or 0.4 hectare) can raise a backyard kitchen garden by growing vegetables and fruits, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Special Secretary Lalit Jain told IANS on Wednesday.

He said under the scheme each beneficiary woman will be entitled to get employment under MGNREGS, besides training to upscale her skill, grants meant to level the hill land, channelise water, set up a vermicompost pit and to purchase saplings and seeds.

"We are advocating multiple cropping to maximise their profits, minimise risk and stabilise incomes for her dignity," Jain, the brain behind the scheme, said.

He said initially 5,000 out of 18,500 self-help groups have been involved under the scheme.

"Not everyone wants to do labour-intensive work. For this reason, 1.50 lakh women from each household have initially come forward to get associated with this scheme that will not only ensure nutrition security of a family but also generate additional incomes for them," he said.

As per estimates, each woman is expected to get an annual cash incentive of Rs 1 lakh under MGNREGS that includes per day wage of Rs 198.

"After self consumption, she will market the remaining produce directly. There is no major formality to get linked with the scheme. After every 15 days, her wage will be transferred to her Aadhar-link bank account," Jain said.

The government has a taskforce -- the Gram Rozgar Sewaks -- in the field to monitor the beneficiaries.

Each beneficiary is entitled to claim reimbursements for purchased seasonal vegetable seeds and fruit tree saplings as advised by the Agriculture and Horticulture Departments.

For development of land and setting up irrigation channels through self labour, she is entitled to get a grant up to Rs 40,000 and for a concrete vermicompost pit there is a provision of Rs 10,000. These amounts will be provided under MGNREGS.

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur told IANS that amid the battle to contain the coronavirus, the government is focusing on the revival of economic activity in rural areas as the state is predominantly governed by agriculture activities.

The Mukhya Mantri 1 Bigha Scheme would not only help enhance the skill but also cushion the impact of the pandemic, he said.

"This will turn out to be a win-win situation for the rural women empowerment. On one hand it will help enhancing incomes and skills, on the other they will manage to develop their assets permanently," an optimistic Thakur, who himself belongs to rural background, told IANS over phone.

According to Economic Survey 2019-20, 181.74 lakh mandays were generated under MGNREGS by providing employment to 447,773 households in the state.

The state has a network of 2,191 bank branches and more than 77 per cent branches are in rural areas.

The self-help group movement has spread across the state and is now on a firm base.

The movement has been upscaled with support in the human resources and financial products.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at