A landmark agreement was signed in the State on December 16 that would see the implementation of a one-of-a-kind effort to train every single village on proper and sustainable natural resource management (NRM).
Despite its wealth of natural resources, from rainfall to minerals and flora and fauna, the state still falls behind in terms of development due to the improper management of these resources, a government press release said today.
Investment in overall NRM has grown from 24 percent of the total budget in 2018-19 to 45 percent of that of 2020-21 to a total of Rs 270 crore.
For water specific activities, investment in the same period grew from 11 percent to 20 percent with an amount of Rs 115 crore. Similarly, significant investments are being made through Externally Aided Projects (EAPs). Rs 62 crore has been invested through the Meghalaya Livelihood and Access to Markets Project (Megha-LAMP) and another Rs 37 crore has been invested through the World Bank-funded Community Led Landscape Management Project (CLLMP).
Meghalaya also has a State Water Policy to guide implementation of NRM, particularly water-related interventions in the state. It is the first state in the country to do so.
The agreement that was signed between the Meghalaya Basin Management Agency (MBMA) and the Soil and Water Conservation Department (SWCD) under the CLLMP project will enable the state to launch a statewide awareness campaign on NRM, to be conducted by the department in every single village. Furthermore, in line with the Water Policy, three active and committed youth or facilitators from each village will be given intensive training on NRM to enable them to prepare NRM plans for their respective villages under the guidance of the department.
The success of NRM initiatives typically rest on how well planning is done as it is holistic in nature, often requiring multiple coordinated activities to address the root cause of the problems and not just the symptoms. Each plan will be vetted and made part of the annual work plan of the (Village Employment Councils) VECs for implementation under the rural employment guarantee scheme (MGNREGS), which currently earmarks 60 percent of its funds for NRM-related activities. Along with this, the department will also build the capacity of government functionaries who are engaged in NRM to enhance their technical capability.
This ambitious exercise will be completed over a one year period where, at the end, a cadre of 20,000 facilitators will play key roles in all ongoing as well as future efforts related to NRM, both at the government and community levels.
To monitor and keep track of the entire exercise, digital platforms have been developed which will monitor the footprint of every training, provide the government with a dashboard for decision making and enable trainees to have access to various training resources generated whenever needed.