The works related to drought proofing including afforestation and tree planting are permissible works as per Schedule I-section I (ii) of the MGNREG Act. Apart from promoting ecological balance, these works can provide sustainable livelihoods for the rural poor. Government is therefore promoting horticulture programmes on the lands of the SC/ST & small/marginal farmers as a part of MGNREGS. Although this programme has had substantial success, the further progress is limited, since majority of rural poor are either landless or have small/marginal holdings.
Commissioner Rural Development proposed that large extents of Government land such as: road margins, irrigation tank foreshore areas, drain/canal bunds, are lying unutilized and can be used for afforestation with suitable species – thereby not only protecting and strengthening these public resources, but provide sustainable employment for the poorest of poor households. It has been proposed that each landless job card holder/household can be allowed to raise plantation/horticulture plants on a piece of public land; and can be given ‘chettu patta’ or usufruct rights on these trees. The plantation and protection of the plantation/horticulture can be supported under MGNREGS and the concerned department will give chettu patta for the trees so raised.
Government of Andhra , after consideration approve the proposal to allow plantation/horticulture on the public lands under MGNREGS and resolve to give heritable but inalienable usufruct rights on such trees to the job card holders. The programme is named “Indiramma Pachcha Toranam” and shall be implemented as a MGNREGS convergence project implemented along with other State Government departments as per the following guidelines:a) Objectives:
i. To provide productive shelf of works for wage seekers under MGNREGS. ii. To provide sustainable and green assets for livelihood of the rural poor. iii. To allow protection and productive use of public lands and promote ecological balance by promoting soil/water conservation
i. All Government lands lying free of occupation like: road margins, canal/drain bunds, tank foreshore areas beyond the maximum level, other unutilised lands with irrigation department and unused lands of education institutions – can be used for plantation under the programme, subject to public safety and convenience.
ii. The landless SC/ST households can be beneficiaries under the programme.
iii. The beneficiary should have worked for at least 20 days as unskilled worker in the preceding financial year under MGNREGS programme.
i. The beneficiaries for the programme shall be identified by the Village
Organisation of SHGs (VOs) by end of May each year, along with the possible lands which can be allotted to each.
ii. The identified beneficiaries along with the proposed lands shall be placed in the Gram Sabha as per MGNREG guidelines for approval.
iii. The Village Revenue Officers will share with the VOs the list of Government lands in each village for the purpose of this programme.
iv. On approval of Gram Sabha, VO shall file, on or before 31st of May each year, an application on behalf of the identified beneficiaries (Proforma in Annexure I) before the designated authority responsible for protection of such Government land seeking permission to plant under the programme duly specifying: the areas for plantation, name of the beneficiary, species proposed to be planted.
i. The designated authority, on receipt of application in Format I, shall consider the same and decide within 15 days whether to give permission of not.
ii. If no order is passed within 15 days from the date of application in Format I, it shall be deemed as consent for plantation.
iii. Permission for plantation shall not be refused unless such plantation (a) could threaten the public safety or (b) land is unavailable or under dispute or (c) land is required for departmental use in near future.
iv. All cases of rejection for plantation can be appealed to the District
Collector, who shall have the power to over-rule the rejection made and could grant permission.
v. Permission granted shall be in Format II (Annexure II) which shall contain granting of usufruct rights on the trees planted which shall be heritable but not alienable.
vi. Each beneficiary shall be allotted land strips for planting not more than 200 plants at spacing not less than 5 meters per plant. The actual spacing can be more or less depending on the species proposed to be planted.
vii. Permission granted can be revoked by the District Collector based on the report of the Programme Officer of MGNREGS and the designated authority for protection of the land if the beneficiary has: (a) not performed his obligations as per the scheme (b) damaged and attempts to damage the land (c) encroached lands of nearby farmers or (d) has done or attempts to do any illegal act on the land.
e) Components of work:
i. The specifications and estimate for the programme covering unskilled wage work/skilled wage/material for covering the pitting, planting and protection for 5 years shall be finalised by Commissioner Rural Development immediately.
ii. The following shall be included in the estimate:
a) Cost of pitting, planting, plant cost, fencing, fertilizers.
b) Water conservation trench between plants.
c) Cost of watering, weeding and soil working tools.
d) Unskilled/ Semi-skilled wages to the beneficiary for five years, based on number of live plants.
e) Capacity building for the beneficiary.
f) Supervisory and Technical support.
iii. The wages for watering and protection shall be paid monthly only for the live plants throughout the 5 year period.
i. The work shall be executed as per MGNREGS guidelines and implemented as MCC work. However, all material including watering
payments shall be paid at ACC.
ii. The estimates for the work under MGNREGS shall be generated by the Programme Officer at MCC before 15th June and sent for administrative sanction of the District Programme Coordinator so that all administrative sanctions are available before 15th June each year.
iii. The beneficiary shall be issued musters for unskilled work till they complete their entitlement days in a year; and thereafter, they shall be provided work under the skilled wage category under the programme.
iv. The cost of wages/material under the scheme shall be transferred directly into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.
g) Species to be planted:
i. Drought resistant grafted fruit trees with shorter gestation period, and which have the approval of the beneficiary shall be selected. Selection can be made from species such as (indicative not exhaustive): Mango, Guava, Sapota, Jamun, Coconut, Sitaphalm Tamarind or pulpwood plantations.
ii. Usually, only one row on each side of the road shall be planted.
However, multi-row plantations can be taken up where sufficient land is available.
iii. Plant material shall be mature: i.e. two year or older.
h) Obligations of the beneficiaries:
i. Shall perform all operations for raising, protecting, watering the trees as per the estimate, either with the members of his household or with
the other members of the Srama Sakti Sangham.
ii. Shall reap the usufruct of the trees after they are mature without damaging the trees or the public assets; and if removal of the plant is essential, shall do replantation at his cost.
iii. Shall not encroach on other lands, not allotted to him as per Format II. iv. Shall not do or attempt to do any activity that would damage the land allotted.
v. Shall not use the land for doing any act prohibited under Law.
Commissioner Rural Development shall finalise the modalities under the scheme in consultation with the other Heads of Department immediately so that implementation can begin from 2013 onwards. CEO SERP is requested to mobilise all the VOs for expeditious identification of the poorest of poor beneficiaries and the lands suitable for plantation. All District Collectors shall oversee implementation of the scheme personally. For the purpose of monitoring, arranging for watering and to give technical support, one Technical Assistant/plantation supervisor shall be deployed for every 30 kilometers of stretch in case of roads or for every 200 acres in case of other areas meeting the cost from the MGNREGS administrative cost.