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Economy of Basudha Turns Around

Economy of Basudha Turns Around with Recovery of Three Hundred Bigha Land

(A success story of NREGA)

By

Santanu Basu, WBCS (Exe), Block Development officer, Kanksa

 
 
  • Introduction
NREGA launched in Burdwan District from 1st April 2007.It is a demand based program. Gram Panchayats and Panchayat Samities are not tied with fixed and inadequate allotment. This program really gives us an opportunity to provide employment to the village people as per their need. The accurate planning under this program may yield sustainable development of an area. Here I am going to represent a case study with respect to two schemes taken by Bankati Gram Panchayat of my Block in the mouza Basudha. The study will reveal how the village economy of Basudha turns around with the input of fund from NREGA.
 
  • Demographic Features and Impact of flood in 1978 and 2000
Basudha village is located on the right bank of river Ajay in Bankati GP. Panagarh Moregram Highway divides the village almost equally into two parts. If Damodar be the sorrow of Burdwan Ajay may be designated as sorrow of Basudha. Ajay River breaking the embankment inundated Basudha village twice in last thirty years; first time in 1978 the year famous for first Panchayat election and devastating flood in West Bengal and second time in the year 2000.The agricultural land in Basudha village seems to be very fertile. The area was very famous for paddy and vegetable cultivation. Villagers used to earn their living from the agricultural land. The economy was almost self sufficient.
 
TABLE A
Demographic features of Basudha
 
Population
SC Population
ST Population
Tot
M
F
Tot
M
F
Tot
2369
2189
4558
939
815
1754
655
666
1321
 
      
 
 
 
 
 
Thirty years ago the natural calamity appeared as a villain to the villagers. The sediments covered the agricultural land as a thick carpet during the flood in 1978. The height of the sediments over the agricultural land used to vary from one foot to two feet. Flood in 2000 increased the height of the sediment. Around 1000 bigha of fertile agricultural land of Basudha got lost totally under a thick cover of sand. The land was suitable for all the three cultivations, Aman, Ravi and Boro. The Village economy suffered terribly
 
 
 
 
Land holding pattern in 1978
 
Amount of land
No. of family possess the particular amount
10 to 15 bigha
10 to 12 families
3 to 5 bigha
100 families
1 to 3 bigha
100 families
 
Beside this there were 70 to 80 bargadars and 150 daily labors that were dependent on the agricultural land to earn their living. The flood of 1978 brought immense hardship to the villagers. They lost the land to earn their living. Many of them migrated to different places in search of work. Farmers became daily labors to the brick field and in the sand quarries of Ajay. Prosperous farmers became a poor daily labor. The same fortune continued till the year 2000 when another devastating flood in the same year aggravated the sorrow of the people of Basudha.
     Local people place their demands repeatedly to Bankati Gram Panchayat and Kanksa Panchayat Samity for taking a scheme of land reclamation for the last thirty years. Inadequacy of fund was the only reason for Gram Panchayat and Panchayat Samity to react positively with the hue and cry of the villagers. It was sheer frustration for both the PRI functionaries and for the villagers. Both of them were very much keen to take up the project but the only constraint was the sufficient flow of fund. Bad fortune prevailed for the villagers of Basudha. In the year 2007 almost 700 labors used to survive depending on the quarries of Ajay. Many farmers went to Burdwan and Durgapur and got an awkward job for them in construction work as semiskilled and unskilled workers.
 

 

  •  About The Work under NREGA
 At last the fortune turned for the villagers when Burdwan District was included under NREGA. Works under NREGA are demand based. Here fund is not a constraint. Bankati Gram Panchayat immediately took the opportunity. When Sansad meeting had been organized for publicity the PRI functionaries were successful to communicate the spirit of NREGA to the villagers of Basudha. When Gram Sansad meeting was again convened for making of annual action plan of NREGA the villagers of Basudha first proposed a land reclamation scheme. The gram Panchayat included the work in the annual action plan in two phases. The detail about the project mentioned below.
Some Basic Information about the Scheme
 
Name of the Scheme
Code No. of the scheme in annual action plan
Estimated amount
Date of vetting
Vetted by
Land Development at Basudha, Plot No. : 1106,1125,1174,1175,1077, 1078, 1045, 1054, 941
13020806018
2203285.00
31.08.2007
Executive Engineer (P & R.D.) Burdwan Zilla Parishad
Land development at Basudha Mauza, plot No. : 996, 1058, 1089, 1048, 1047, 1178, 1107, 1182, 1186, 1212
13020806052
2183285.00
20.11.2007
Executive Engineer W.B.S.R.D.A., Durgapur Division
 
 

 

  •  The Turn Around
 The Gram Panchayat took initiative to execute the work promptly as per the demand of the local People. First phase is already completed and the work for second phase is ongoing. Till day 37842 man days have been created in two phases.  The detail of man days created mentioned below.
 
Break up of man days created in two schemes
 
Name of the Scheme
SC
ST
Others
Total
Total no. of Female
1
2
3
5
6
7
Land Development at Basudha, Plot No. : 1106,1125,1174,1175,1077, 1078, 1045, 1054, 941
12915
7720
1673
22308
8993
Land development at Basudha Mauza, plot No. : 996, 1058, 1089, 1048, 1047, 1178, 1107, 1182, 1186, 1212
11244
3344
946
15534
5702
Total
24159
11064
2619
37842
14695
 
     The man days generated through these two schemes is huge. It was not possible earlier to generate such a huge number of man days in particular area.The families who got work in those two schemes got work for on an average for 35 to 45 days. More or less all the families in Basudha got a handful amount of wages. The immediate impact of this earning is massive. I talked with many of the persons in the field who worked in those two schemes. I am mentioning here glimpses of animated expressions.
     Paritosh Biswas (SC) and his family with registration No.130208076 worked 63 days. He is a farmer. As there was no scope of work he went to Burdwan to work with a mason. When he heard that Worked under NREGA started in his village he came back and joined the work of land reclamation in his village. I asked him ‘how did the wage you earned in this work help you?’ He answered that he had a ten katha land. But the land was covered with sand. Through this scheme his land got recovered, He invested a part of wage he earned for potato cultivation in his own land. He was very happy that he will be able to cultivate his land regularly hence forth in addition to his other occupations.
    Padma Sau, a widow, her family (registration no.130208091) got work for 100 days. She was very happy with NREGA. She told me that the wage she earned helped her to repay the loan she incurred for her daughter’s Marriage. This loan repayment brought social prestige for her family. She purchased a cow and a pair of goat from her earning. She exclaimed that it will help her to increase her family income in recent future.
   Shefali Adhikari (Registration no. 130209176) worked for 30 days. She told that the wage he earned helped her to provide better education for her child.
 
Many others reacted positively like this way which speaks for the turn around.
 
Ø      Became able to give their children better education
Ø      Became able to repay Bank Loan
Ø      Became able to repair their house
Ø      Bought cattle for rearing
Ø      Would get work as a agricultural labor on the land recently recovered from next season.
 

 

 The Role of NGO Bikalpa
 
    The above discussion clearly explains how the village economy of Basudha turns around with respect to a project under NREGA. In the next paragraph I would explain how the recovered land will generate national asset and generate employment in the coming years. However here I must mention the contribution of local NGO Bikalpa. They have done a splendid job. After the land being recovered the next hard task is to demarcate the land again with the help of the officials of the land department. A detail land measurement is required as flood borne sediments eloped all the demarcation marks. The land measurement is a time taking event. Bikalpa introduced an innovative idea. They supported the local farmers with potato and mustard seeds and fertilizers and encouraged the farmers to cultivate Potato and mustard. The farmers found the land remained fallow for the last thirty years. It was to give the farmers a belief that their agricultural land is now fit for cultivation. Bikalpa initiated model cultivation in 20 bigha land. I was observing the work since its initiation. It was a great pleasure for me to see the vast brown colored field very soon got covered with a layer of green. I am inserting a few photographs in support of my statement. The initiative from Bikalpa not only generated a confidence among the farmers, at the same time the farmers got an opportunity to earn from the land from this very year.

The Golden Future

 
The land recovered will yield good fortune for the villagers of Basudha in the coming years. The land is now fit for three cultivations in a year aman, ravi and boro. Through these schemes around 300 bigha or 100 acre of land got recovered. Cultivation thrice in a year on 300 bigha of land will generate almost 2250000 man days per year. Money value of the man days generated will be 14 crore 50 lakhs. Total aman production would likely to be 2100 quintal, boro production would likely to be 3000 quintal, ravi crop production would likely to be 4500 quintal. The total value of the aman, ravi and boro crops would likely to be rupees fifty five lakhs in a year. This additional production will be a national asset. The schemes executed not only generated employment for the villagers in the current year but made a provision for generation of employment at a greater scale in the years to come. The schemes executed under NREGA will add blood to the emaciated agrarian economy of Basudha. The villagers are very happy thinking about the golden future awaiting them.
 

 

 Conclusion
 
We execute many schemes under different programs of rural Development, utilize crores of rupees but rarely assess the social impact of the schemes. Government at present is stressing on income generating schemes. It should be the spirit of rural development that today’s investment on a particular project will yield long term dividend to the villagers. From this point of view two schemes taken by the Bankati Gram Panchayat at Basudha for land development is an ideal one which suits with the philosophy of NREGA. It would be a lesson for us for identification and execution of schemes in the future.