Biological Threats, Covid-19, MGNREGA 15th Year of Implementation (March 2021) (Download PDF)

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Biological Threats

  • 3 Types
  • Locust attack
  • Bird flu
  • Zoonotic infections
  • Illegal growth of transgenic crops
  • The country faces three major biological threats: naturally occurring infections in humans, plants, or animals; diseases that may occur due to an unintentional release of pathogens from laboratories; and terrorists or other bad actors deliberately misusing biotechnology to create biological weapons that can affect humans, animals or crops.
  • We have a poor disease surveillance network which makes timely detection of outbreaks difficult. Inadequate coordination among ministries prevent zoonotic infections complicates the response. Dismal investment in scientific research disincentivizes researchers involved in the public health sector, who could help by developing capacities to identify, treat and vaccinate against threatening organisms


Surge in Cases

Surge in Cases
  • World Health Organization՚s weekly update on covid-19 issued on March 3, India witnessed an increase of cases by 21 per cent in one week. This was the second highest quantum of increase that week across the world after Italy.
  • The virus is spreading to hitherto unaffected areas: to tier-II towns and even rural areas
  • On February 17, India՚s reproduction number or R-value rose to 1.09. The R-value is an indicator of the number of people getting infected from one patient (previous values were around 0.9)
  • Seropositivity rate is the estimated proportion of people who have developed antibodies against the virus
  • India՚s seropositivity rate is actually much higher as compared to the other countries
  • New districts are now being affected

MGNREGA – 15ThYear of Implementation

  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
  • Labour is the only capital for at least 50 per cent of the workforce, the programme guarantees, through a legal framework, at least 100 days of waged employment a year to households in rural India
  • In 15 years of implementation, it has generated than 31-billion-person days of employment and the government has spent over R. 64 lakh crore on this demand-driven programme
  • At least 60 per cent of the works undertaken must be related to land and water conservation
  • Since 2006, more than 30 million water conservation-related assets have been created in the country՚s rural areas. This comes to at least 50 water-related structures per village, with the total number of villages in India being 0.6 million in contrast to 3.1 million elected panchayat representatives
  • The 2018 Composite Water Management Index, developed by Niti Aayog, notes that water demand in the country will exceed supply by 2030
  • 5th Minor Irrigation Census (the latest one, referring to the year 2013 - 14) says there were just 21.7 million minor irrigation structures in the country. Almost 95 per cent of these use groundwater. But 60 per cent of them are in disuse due to lack of water availability
  • MGNREGA is also the country՚s largest water conservation exercise
  • Ananthapuramu district in Andhra Pradesh brought under Desert Development Program - In 2018 - 19, the district received 272.8 mm of rain, the least in its past 100 years and about half of its annual average of 550 mm but still there was no water shortage due to tanks and water conservation structures being built.
  • Encourage small and marginal farmers owning less than 2 ha, to grow horticultural and biodiesel crops using labour under MGNREGA
  • Barmani village in Madhya Pradesh՚s Sidhi district – every household has vegetable garden – farming 10 months a year – check dams constructed
  • Pookkottukavu village, Kerala - located on the river basin, 35 km from the district headquarters, today has the country՚s largest group of trained women well diggers. The district, though receives a healthy 2,300 mm rain annually, faces an extreme water crisis, allegedly due to over-extraction of groundwater by industries.
  • In the adjacent Polpully village, the panchayat has used MGNREGA to desilt and revitalize 22 percolation tanks, locally called kokkarnis, in the past 15 years. Some of the kokkarnis are over 100 years old. In 2018, when a severe flood silted up kokkarni, 230 residents worked under MGNREGA and revived it within 35 days
  • One village, Thrikkadeeiri, emerged as a role model by creating 235 rainwater storages, each with a carrying capacity of 10,000 litres.
  • Jalaun is among the 13 districts in Bundelkhand region that experience prolonged droughts interspersed with spells of flash floods. This leads to soil erosions and affects farming.
  • The tanks or tallaiya surrounding Nadia village in Tikamgarh, Madhya Pradesh, need negligible maintenance because they do not obstruct the natural flow of rainwater – chain of 55 tallaiya and each tallaiya can irrigate 4 hectares of land
  • Construction of waterbodies in Bhuanpada village of Odisha՚s Balangir district has helped check migration
  • Nagapattinam on Cauvery river was once fertile but after 2004 tsunami soil՚s electrical conductivity level, which is a measure of the number of salts in soil has tripled
  • Naluvedapathy panchayat - won a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the greatest number of tree plantations (254,464) in a single day on October 2,2005.
  • West Bengal, Birbandh and Kawatanga villages of Bankura district - 30×40 model has been used under which water flowing from higher land gets trapped after 30 m over a horizontal spread of 40 m. Kawatanga and Birbandh are tribal villages, where residents cultivate in their own land, having created small waterbodies, called hapas to catch water. Hapas cover roughly one-twentieth of the land. The residents also do farm on government lands.
  • Paldelwal village Dungarpur - groundwater has remained almost constant over the past decade despite a 22 per cent reduction in rainfall from earlier 100 kg of gram from his 0.4 hectare (ha) in Batka Phala, person can now harvest 400 kg of wheat a year
  • Ramadurga village is in Karnataka՚s Chitradurga district, one of the driest in the country – pond or gokatte and development of step wells or kalyanis
  • Sisra in Haryana – 3 pond system - ponds are adjacent to each other, along the gradient of the land and are connected via pipes. The pond at the highest elevation acts as the reservoir of the village՚s grey water (discharge from kitchen and bath) . As the water moves into the successive ponds, it gets cleaned due to the settlement of impurities
  • Kaimur in Bihar - The irrigation system that dates back to the Magadha Kingdom thousands of years ago has two components: channels or pyne and small retention ponds or ahar. The channels are dug into the soil to allow the water to flow, with raised embankments on the sides. The channel is interspersed with the ponds to collect excess water. The design of the system serves a dual purpose, draining water during floods and retaining water during droughts. The usage of ahar-pyne greatly declined in the 20th century with the advent of water extraction techniques, such as tube wells. They are now being revived
  • Jalna district՚s success is unique as it was also one of the first regions to implement Maharashtra՚s Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) , which was a precursor to MGNREGA. EGS was introduced after a severe drought in Marathwada region that impacted 43 - 86 per cent rural population, says a 2005 paper by the Institute for Human Development, Delhi. It was started in Aurangabad district and Jalna was carved out of it in 1981
  • Levelling of farms in Manchal village in Telangana՚s Ranga Reddy district let to cropping – earlier it was elevated uplands with steep slopes, dissected by deep and narrow gullies
  • Sabarkantha is in northern Gujarat, where orchards are a rarity. The district՚s 30-year average annual rain is less than 800 mm. The natural slope of the land is towards the adjacent district of Mehsana, which lies on the banks of the Sabarmati river. The rainwater in Sabarkantha, therefore, drains towards Mehsana. Build big village-ponds, small community-ponds, check dams and bori bunds (check dams made of gunny bags filled with soil) , and undertake desilting operations under the scheme to improve water availability. It has reduced salinity and farmers now grow fruit, such as custard apple, guava and sapota, and vegetables like brinjal, while earlier they were just growing maize, millets, wheat and cotton.

- Published/Last Modified on: June 13, 2021


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