A million opportunities lost
The ruling alliance’s flagship rural employment programme took unprecedented strides in creating water conservation structures across the country, but only to harvest disillusionment. What went wrong? Down to Earth team traveled to Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in search of answers.
This is the little known big story of India’s nationwide rural employment programme. In the past five years the programme has sought to create tanks, ponds, wells and revive traditional water conservation structures at a scale and pace not witnessed before in the country. Millions of people in the countryside seeking jobs under the programme embarked on building or reviving 3.4 million water conservation structures, according to the Union rural development ministry. This is unprecedented given that before 2005, all the public wage schemes together created just about two million structures in six decades.