The Rural Development Ministry will carry out a pilot study on environmental benefits and green outcomes of rural flagship scheme MGNREGA in seven states with the help of United Nations Development Programme.
The project will be conducted in 14 gram panchayats, two each from seven agro-ecological zones of the country—Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Guajrat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
Watershed Support Services and Activities Network (WASSAN), Hyderabad is the technical resource agency responsible for organising the project on green audit and development of a green audit framework for the MGNREGA programme, the ministry has said in a communication.
WASSAN is a national-level resource support organisation working mainly for strengthening community-based natural resource management programmes in different parts of the country.
Earlier a study by Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and other national institutions had suggested that the scheme generated environmental benefits in a number of states.
The study was based on the experiences of MGNREGA in five states -- Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Sikkim—had concluded that ground water levels and drinking water availability had improved in these areas because of MGNREGA projects.
A bulk of MGNREGA works is linked to water conservation such as water harvesting, drought proofing, irrigation and renovation of traditional water bodies. The pilot study being carried out by the government will be a precursor to finalising the the methodology related with green audit.
The ministry has written to the senior officials of the seven states to provide necessary support for the study, which will assess the trends and triggers of change introduced by MGNREGA.
After the field work is completed in 14 gram panchayats in two months, April and May, the methodology and tools for conducting green audit would be finalised in consultation with the ministry, UNDP and WASSAN, it said.