Water conservation projects taken up by the Belagavi zilla panchayat to find a long term solution to the drought have won the Union Panchayat Raj Ministry’s award for effective Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) implementation in the State for 2016.

Under the project named Jalamruta, the ZP took up watershed development in government and private farm lands as per the ridge to valley principle. It also took up and successfully completed the ambitious project of rejuvenating the Markandeya river that runs through Belagavi taluk.

Around 65.72 lakh person days were created as workers toiled to complete as 3,671 community works and 28,110 individual works across the ten taluks.

As much as ₹182 crore was spent on the project, with ₹123.74 crore being paid in wages and ₹58 crore spent on materials. Against the target of 30 lakh person days, the achievement was 65.72, a 125 per cent increase above the target.

The highest number of person days were created in Hukkeri taluk that had 10.11 lakh person days. The lowest was in Raibag with 3.57 lakh of them.

Individual works included land development, horticulture, sericulture, farm forestry, building cattle sheds, thresh yards, play grounds, grave yard development, bore well recharge structures, Village tanks development, rural gardens, plantations, and foot bridges. As much as 60 per cent of the wages were paid in two weeks, 60 per cent of the works were completed before the wage cycle and 70 per cent of the muster rolls were returned.

The project was started by the former Chief executive officer Bagadi Gautham in September 2016. ZP CEO R. Ramachandran received the award recently in New Delhi.

“Jalamrutha demonstrated that the works succeeded in not only ensuring recharge of ground water, but also in the larger objective of bringing people together to work for the community. The river that runs for nearly 37 kilometres was desilted, encroachments removed and boundary marked out. Plantations was done along the bank and situ conservation works were taken up to ensure water retention this monsoon,” said Mr. Ramachandran.

The districts of Ramnagar and Shivamogga stood second and third on the list of districts with remarkable achievement in MGNREGA implementation.