Report by OD bureau; Bhubaneswar: District administrations have been warmed up for intensive plantation under National Rural Employment guarantee Scheme (NREGS) in their respective districts. Chief Secretary Bijay Kumar Patnaik has directed the Collectors and Project Directors of District Rural Development agencies to look in to the programme and review the progress regularly over a video conferencing held in Secretariat conference hall day before.
The Project Directors have been asked to verify pitting, actual plantation and the arrangement for their survival. Joining the Conference Secretary Panchayat Raj Pradeep Kumar Jena told that plantation serves two principal objectives of the NREGS viz. creation of assert and provision for sustainable livelihood. The Collectors have been asked to fix targets for all field level officials and initiate actions against those who do not work up to expectation.
PR Secretary Sri Jena has clarified that the cost norms of plantation has been specified by respective departments like Forest, Horticulture and Soil Conservation. Collectors have been asked to follow that cost norm. There is no ceiling for quantum of plantation and also there is no dearth of seedlings. The districts have been asked to utilize the funds to their maximum. However, each district have been given a minimum target of plantation to be executed by above cited departments. Field level activities have been started with state target of 50,000 hect. plantation under Forest Department, 20,000 hect. Under Horticulture Department and 5,000 hect under Soil Conservation Department.
Chief Secretary Patnaik has directed Collectors to release 50 % of the required fund in advance to respective departments for plantation activities. Secretary P.R. Sri Jena has alerted the collectors to see that plantation activities do not suffer because of the lack of funds. As rainy season has set in the NREGS funds are likely to remain idle at Panchayat and Block levels. As such, the collectors have been asked to pull back that unspent amount from blocks and utilize it in plantation activities. The money pulled out will be replaced in 2 months before the start of actual working season.
Discussions over the video conferencing also reveal that in the mean while Project Director Watershed Programmes have joined different districts. Earlier watershed works were being implemented through District rural Development Agencies ( DRDA). In many districts charges with audited accounts have been transferred from DRDA to Watershed Project. Pr Secretary Agriculture Raj Sri R.L.Jamuda has instructed all collectors to complete the entire process of transfer of files , handing over of charges and submit utilization certificates within this week. Pr Secretary Forest & Environment Sri Raj Kumar Sharma has instructed all Forest Divisions to go above the minimum target in plantantion and make increase the percentage of density as well as coverage without fail.
Collector Kandhamal Sri Rajesh Patil and Collector Malkangiri Sri Balwant Singh were appreciated for the innovative methods adopted by them for success of plantation activities. Kandhamal district has set out on plantation activities with budget estimation of Rs.45 cr. Other districts were advised to follow the suit.
Chief Secretary Sri Patnaik has advised Collector Khurda to create more coconut orchards in the districts by utilization of NREGS funds. The collectors have been clarified that they can have one additional manpower if they can utilize Rs. 50 lakhs in one cluster. It has also been clarified that plantation up to one hector can be taken up in the land of ST SC people , small and marginal farmers. However, the collectors have been given clearance to go up to 2 hectors of plantation in individual beneficiary model.