Mahatma Gandhi NREGS – the opportunities and challenges

Mahatma Gandhi NREGA is such an Act that acknowledges and ensures right to work for rural populace who have nothing other than their unskilled labour to earn wages. Besides its right based demand driven approach and its mandate for accountability and transparency, its extensive flexibility to go for convergence to adapt in socio-economic and geo-climatic situations in states and districts simultaneously provide great opportunities and challenge to state and district authorities.

The state has its own comprehensive State Convergence Action Plan (SCAP) which involved 25 Departments and 32 programmes as part of the convergence initiative under MAHATMA GANDHI NREGS works that defines 153 types of works and stresses on initiative, innovation and implementation. This calls for extensive and timely coordination so that there create durable assets that in turn can help sustain rural people’s livelihoods.

Bankura – the rural perspective in brief

The district may be described as the ‘connecting link between the plains of Bengal on the east and Chhota-Nagpur plateau on the west.’ It has total area of 6,882 sq. kms. Its north to south extension is of 112 km. and that of east to west is of 120 km. The areas to the east and northeast are low lying alluvial plains, similar to predominating rice lands of Bengal plain. To the west the surface gradually rises which gives way to undulating country, interspersed with rocky hillocks. Much of the district is covered with jungles. However there is fast deforestation.

The district could be divided into broad three regions viz. 1) the hilly areas to the west, 2) the connecting undulating tract in the middle, and 3) the level alluvial plains to the east. Average
elevation of the district from mean sea level is 448 metres. The average rain fall for the last 100 years ranges from 1200mm to 1400mm, but it’s very much erratic, and for the huge surface run off and shortage of water storage capacity the district is a water stressed one. The most characteristic geological feature of the district is the area of laterite and associated rocks of sand and gravel. At some places one finds hard beds of laterite. At other places it is decomposed and recoganised.

The drainage system of the district is mainly controlled by rivers like Damodar, Dwarakeswar and Kangsabati along with their network of tributaries, like Gandheswari, Sali, Arkasha, Birai,Bodai etc. They also play important role in the district’s irrigation. All the rivers are rainfed, hence the district is drought prone. Except the Mejia Beel, formed by the overflowof the Damodar, there is no natural lake in the district. The climate of Bankura district is tropical, dry and sub-humid.

In forest areas, majority of the population depend on the forest for various purposes like grazing, firewood, collection of Sal leaves & seeds, mushrooms etc. Since the pressure on the forests is high, some minimum amount of forest degradation has almost become unavoidable.

There is not any large deposit of minerals in the district which is commonly available in the plateau regions. Few coal mines are found in Saltora, Mejia and Barjora. Quartzite and china clay are available in the Susunia Hill area.

The soil of the Bankura upland is laterite red and hard beds are covered with scrub jungle and salwood. Agriculture accounts almost 70 per cent of the district’s total income and around 90% of rural people are in engaged in agriculture and allied activities. There is considerable disguise unemployment in agriculture. Agricultural land of the district is of three types- Sali, Suna and Tara or Danga. Remaining lands of the district is not cultivable due to undulation of land and morum soil. Agriculture in the district is largely dependent of monsoon. Drought is the major hazard in the district. Intermittent gaps in precipitation and moisture stress during the monsoon gives rise to serious setback in production during the Kharif, which is the main stay of agriculture in the district. The undulating land and the unplanned river management, low irrigation potential render the district mainly mono-cropped and the agricultural productivity is very low. Land and land use pattern are as follows: 

Nature of area  Area (in hectare)
Area under forest cover  145006.56
Area under Non-Agriculture use  109621
Barren and uncultivable land 3302
Permanent pasture and other grazing  633
Area under Misc. tree crops and groves not included in the net area sown  5177
cultivable waste 2337
Fallow land other than current fallow 1386
Current fallow  19404
Net Area  397890
Area sown more than once 205094
Gross cropped area 602984
Cropping intensity 151.54

The forest wealth of Khatra and Ranibandh has always been remarkable. Various types of medicinal trees/plants are available in these forests which are largely exported to neighbouring districts and also outside the State. Due to lack of water and undulated alluvial sandy soil, huge lands are remaining vacant which can be upgraded by using modern techniques. The plants which need little water may be planted in these areas.

According to 2011 census the rural population is 3296901(91.7%), growth rate is 11.5, density ofpopulation 523, sex ratio 956. 41.2 percentage of working population to total population (main+ marginal), 41.5 (male) 8.8 (female), rural literacy rate 79.1, SC population is 1174447 (17.7%),ST is 368690 (11.5%). The district has 22 PanchayatSamities with 190 Gram Panchayatsconsisting of 3823 villages.

MAHATMA GANDHI NREGS in Bankura – challenges and opportunities Against this rural profile of the Bankura District Administration works are framed and implemented. It simultaneously defines scope and poses challenges for MAHATMA GANDHI NREGS works. As already said agriculture is water stressed and productivity is low, moreover there are extensive fallow, barren and waste lands in the district. The district’s socio-economic and geo-climatic conditions help develop model convergent plans for agriculture and allied activities and watershed works across the same geo-climatic regions of the district. More important, this can help develop understanding and skills of PRI members and officials who can in turn develop and implement micro convergent plans appropriate for local situations.


State : WEST BENGAL District : BANKURA

Name Count
Total No. of Blocks  22
Total No. of GPs 190



Name Count
Total No. of JobCards issued[In Lakhs] 6.1
Total No. of Workers[In Lakhs]  15.82
Total No. of Active Job Cards[In Lakhs] 4.3
Total No. of Active Workers[In Lakhs]  8.76
(i)SC worker against active workers[%] 41.89
(ii)ST worker against active workers[%] 11.76


II Progress FY 2019- 2020 FY 2019-2020 FY 2018- 2019 FY 2017- 2018 FY 2016- 2017 FY 2015-2016
Approved Labour Budget[In Lakhs] 149.75 142.64  126 97.3 146.67
Persondays Generated so far[In Lakhs] 98.58   156.05 146.72 110.29 134.89
% of Total LB 65.83 109.41 116.45 113.35 91.97
% as per Proportionate LB 73.21
SC persondays % as of total persondays 49.84 46.49 47.54 47.19 47.42
ST persondays % as of total persondays 15.55 13.12 13.42  14.36 14.4
Women Persondays out of Total (%) 49.06  48.21 47.8 46.72 43.96
Average days of employment provided per Household 38.1  75.46 61.48 36.67 40.73
Average Wage rate per day per person(Rs.) 164.57 155.81 159.84 163.36 163.02
Total No of HHs completed 100 Days of Wage Employment  9,902  65,127 26,855 8,435 16,964
Total Households Worked[In Lakhs] 2.59 2.07 2.39 3.01 3.31
Total Individuals Worked[In Lakhs] 4.43 4.29 4.72   5.56  6.13
Differently abled persons worked 2799 2685 3222 3683 4436



  FY 2019-2020 FY 2018- 2019 FY 2017- 2018 FY 2016- 2017 FY 2015-2016
Number of GPs with NIL exp 0 0 0 0 0
Total No. of Works Takenup (New+Spill Over)[In Lakhs] 0.89 0.89 1  0.61 0.42
Number of Ongoing Works[In Lakhs] 0.6 0.47 0.7 0.45 0.34
Number of Completed Works 28,446 42,938  30,590  16,149 8,005
% of NRM Expenditure(Public + Individual) 59.26  74.71 67.14 67.45 70.97
% of Category B Works 87.97 81.58 78.32 64.39 58.24
% of Expenditure on Agriculture & Agriculture Allied Works 73.48 76.53 81.85 79.9 78.77


IV Financial Progress…

  FY 2019-2020 FY 2018- 2019 FY 2017- 2018 FY 2016- 2017 FY 2015-2016
Total Exp(Rs. in Lakhs.) 23,060.63 30,469.06  31,192.59 30,191.64 16,871.18
Wages(Rs. In Lakhs) 16,119.23 24,232.92 25,069.65  25,025.3 14,665.83
Material and skilled Wages(Rs. In Lakhs) 5,869.38   5,092.62 5,015.37 4,116.29 1,408.55
Material(%) 26.69 17.37 16.67 14.13 8.76
Total Adm Expenditure (Rs. in Lakhs.) 1,072.02 1,143.51  1,107.57 1,050.04 796.8
Admin Exp(%) 4.65 3.75 3.55 3.48 4.72
Average Cost Per Day Per Person(In Rs.) 202.77 173.19 181.2  179.69  177.98
% of Total Expenditure through EFMS 99.98 99.95 99.99 100 99.95
% payments gererated within 15 days  99.58 93.99 98.94 34.57 27.11