The Centre has asked states to give priority to water conservation works being done under the rural employment guarantee scheme MGNREGS to ensure water availability during the ongoing peak summer season.
Considering the importance of water conservation in April-June period, the Centre has released adequate funds for large-scale thrust on completing the ongoing 43.62 lakh natural resource management works, Rural Development Ministry said in an official statement.
The demand for works under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) remains high in the first three months of a financial year -- starting from April.
When contacted, Joint Secretary in the ministry, Aparajita Sarangi said the Centre has already released about Rs 23,147 crore (about 40 per cent of the total allocation for the 2018-19 financial year) to states to ensure smooth flow of the works under MGNREGS.
"The focus is on to complete the ongoing works especially related to water conservation as summer season is around the corner," she said.
As much as 143 lakh hectares of land have already benefitted from water conservation efforts under MGNREGS over the last 3 years, the ministry said, adding that it includes construction of over 11 lakh farm ponds and others.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the chief secretaries of all the states in the 'PRAGATI' Review to assign topmost priority to water conservation works under MGNREGS in the April-June period.
Modi had also exhorted gram panchayat pradhans to lead a community-owned movement for water conservation using MGNREGS resources to insulate villages from vagaries of monsoon.