Migration has always been a major issue leading to population imbalance and conflicts of all kinds across the country. The general trend of migration is usually from rural to urban, especially by farmers owing to the seasonal nature of agriculture in many regions. Sometimes, as has been more pronounced lately, farmers move to towns and cities when their produce is destroyed completely owing to untimely rains or drought, all impacts of a changing climate. There is thus an urgent need to address this migration and its cause and treat it at the root level.

Taking a positive step in this direction, Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh called on the Union Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Dr. C.P. Joshi in New Delhi last week. In the meeting, his concern over the need to provide and generate employment for people especially in rural parts of Manipur was highlighted. Manipur is currently facing a huge unemployment crisis which is also aggravating the insurgency problem in the state for obvious reasons. State wide unemployment is chiefly responsible for the large scale migration of students and professionals to other parts of the country.

The Rural Development Minister assured full cooperation from Centre to the  Government of Manipur in respect of assistance from the Ministry in the implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (Mahatma Gandhi NREGA), Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) and Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) along with other flagship programmes of the Government under the Ministry of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj in the State. The Chief Minister also shared the progress of implementation of Centrally sponsored Rural Development Schemes in the state.

Without doubt, increase in rural employment will help people living in rural area to sustain themselves during the off-harvest season. The availability of employment opportunity in the off-harvest time of the year is even more important as it keeps rural folks from leaving their villages and prevents them from coming under the scanner of environmental monitoring and being tagged urban polluters. In towns and cities, without jobs such farmers and termed ‘urban poor’ as they cannot afford facilities of living in an ‘Eco-friendly’ manner. And their squattering lifestyle is found to cause or increase pollutions in the cities.

The total area covered by the state of Manipur is 22,347 km² and it has a population of 2,388,634. Of this total, 58.9% live in the valley and the remaining 41.1% in the hilly region. Manipur has currently nine administrative districts viz Bishnupur, Churachandpur, Chandel, Imphal east, Imphal west, Senapati, Tamenglong, Thoubal and Ukhrul.

The Mahatma Gandhi NAREGA aims at enhancing the livelihood security of people in rural areas by guaranteeing hundred days of wage-employment in a financial year to a rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

Since most of Manipur is hilly and rugged, road connectivity hinders many developmental works. Hence enhancing and implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) is an ideal way to promote sustainable development. The Yojana’s aim is to provide good all-weather road connectivity to unconnected Habitations.

Likewise the objective of the Indira Awaas Yojana is primarily to help construction/upgradation of dwelling units of members of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes, free bonded labourers, minorities in the below poverty line category and other below poverty line non-SC/ST rural households by providing them financial assistance.

With proper implementation and upgradation of these three national schemes in Manipur, the state will surely move ahead and progress. Such a measure will therefore help ensure sustainable development in the region and contribute towards a wider cause of protecting livelihoods in the fight against climate change.

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