National rural employment guarantee act (NREGA) - a watershed works manual by Samaj Pragati Sahayog

The manual is focused on earthen watershed structures given priority under NREGA and meant for individuals and organisations involved in planning, implementing and monitoring the act

This Watershed Works Manual for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) programme was prepared by Samaj Pragati Sahayog at the request of the Union Ministry of Rural Development. It is meant for those individuals and organisations who will be involved in planning, implementing and/ or monitoring NREGA. These can be PRI representatives, grass-roots NGOs or government officials engaged with this process at different levels.

The manual caters to the following -

  • Need for people to understand the details of NREGA.
  • Need for awareness of the various entitlements of workers under the Act.
  • Need to know the procedures for registering workers, application for work, the roles and responsibilities of Gram Sabhas and Gram Panchayats, how to conduct social audit etc.
  • Need to understand how works under the scheme are to be planned and executed.
  • Need to have the capacity to work out how structures built are to be costed.
  • Need to know how to maintain accounts properly. If they want to ensure transparency and a corruption-free scheme they have to know all these details.

SPS plans to carry out a series of training programmes in the use of this manual. It is hoped that the manual will be used by many of those who attended these programmes, to train other people in their own areas where NREGA is being implemented. The manual is focused on earthen watershed structures, which are labour-intensive works given priority under NREGA

The manual is organised into 17 chapters. The first two chapters provide an introduction to NREGA. They outline the historic significance of the Act and also provide a brief summary of its official guidelines. The next four chapters introduce the reader to the concepts required for an understanding of the watershed approach through which the structures are to be built and also the concepts used in building these structures. This includes an introduction to the use of maps and also to basic techniques of surveying that help calculate levels and slopes of the land. A separate chapter is devoted to the social and institutional aspects that must inform our approach. 

Chapters 7 to 14 introduce the most important watershed structures, one by one. Each chapter tells us about why these structures are built, how we decide where to locate them, how we lay them out over the watershed, how their design is arrived at, how we construct them, as also the precautions we need to observe in doing so. Chapter 15 tells us how to use a book called the Schedule of Rates in order to estimate how much each of these structures will cost. It teaches this through a series of numerical examples. Chapter 16 raises a number of questions about the way the Schedule of Rates has been formulated. Finally, Chapter 17 teaches the basics of the double-entry system of accounts, through a series of typical transactions to be handled by the implementing agency. 

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