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IAS officer sets a model by creating 800 Jobs under River Restoration project during Lockdown

A dried-up river in UP's Barabanki is revived completely. IAS officer looks ahead for bigger plans during the lockdown.

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The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and the complete lockdown which followed it, showed many ugly faces of the government while dealing with the crisis. Be it the plight of migrant workers or insufficient facilities for the COVID-19 warriors fighting in the forefront, the government’s action was criticizable in all aspects. However, recent developments in few states amid this chaotic situation, make us hopeful and help restore our faith in governance once again. One such case was from the Giridih district of Jharkhand, and the recent, innovative, and inspiring story is from the Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh.

The District magistrate of Barabanki, Dr. Adarsh Singh came up with a river restoration project which ensured Jobs to 800 nearby villagers who lost their source of livelihood amid the lockdown restrictions. The project was completed in 60 days.

(Before and after image of the river)

Project Aim:

Kalyani River was once the source of irrigation for the farmers in the nearby villages, but unfortunately, it dried up due to the accumulation of silt. The plan was to restore its 2.6 Km stretch in Mavaiya village of the Barabanki district which had been successfully done and another 1.5 km stretch in the neighbouring Haidargarh village is ongoing. Last year, the district administration initiated the river cleaning program but due to lack of manpower, it came to halt.

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A tweet by the District Magistrate of Barabanki

Revival in 60 days:

Before the actual groundwork, an awareness program was run by the district authorities to sensitise the villagers to reduce garbage dumping and open defecation by the riverside. Encroachments were removed along the banks.

500 daily wage workers were registered for Mavaiya village river and another 300 for Haidargarh village, clear instructions were given to them.

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The workforce dug the river 1.5 meters deep and widened it by 25 meters to capture and store the rainwater.

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It took 60 days to desilt the stretch in Mavaiya. The work in Haidargarh is nearing its completion, and as per magistrate Dr. Singh, It should be done before 30 June.

The river restoration project was covered under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGA) and a budget of more than Rs 59 lakh was sanctioned for it in phase 1.

The uniqueness of this project was the excitement of people to work.
“This project came as a ray of hope for several villagers who were struggling. Another reason was that if the river was rejuvenated, then it would ultimately benefit them. This project aims at conserving water and recharging the groundwater,” said Block development Officer Mr. Hemant Yadav.

Future Aspirations:

Dr. Singh plans to expand this project to nearby villages as well. Since the Kalyani river is 170 km, its reach to other villages will be very helpful for the farmers. “Now, that we got the required manpower, skills, and knowledge on how to go about it, we will replicate the model in other villages post-monsoon,” said Dr. Singh

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The lockdown has turned the world upside down. Millions of jobs have been uprooted. Daily wage workers, the poor, downtrodden, and families with weak financial backgrounds are living through worse days of their lives. The ever increasing cases of COVID-19 is not only draining people financially but mentally as well. During these times of hardships, the best thing is to make most of the situation and optimise the available resources. Officers like Singh make for an inspiring example.

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