Gangtok (Agencies): During recent Mahatma Gandhi NREGA Sammelan in New Delhi, Sikkim bagged national award in all three categories for exemplary work done under MG-NREGA.
 
The sammelan was held to commemorate the completion of the fifth year of the commencement of this programme and to give away awards to the best performing gram panchayats, district MGNREGA teams and NGOs by the Union Rural Development ministry.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi conferred the national award under the District category to Tshering Namgyal Bhutia, District Development Officer, North District.

The award under the Gram Panchayat category was awarded to Milan Kumar Chettri, Panchayat Secretary, Chuba Phong Gram Panchayat and in the NGO category Voluntary Health Association of Sikkim (VHAS) was awarded.

North District was selected under the category - “Excellence in District Administration in the effective implementation of MGNREGA” resulting in community-centric development in challenging physical environment. A screening committee had carried out evaluation in North district from January 22 to 24 and had inspected the implementation of the scheme at Kabi, Mangan and Dzongu. They were impressed with the level of community involvement in this highest, steepest and remotest district in the country, with a high tribal population as well.

Milan Kumar Chettri, Panchayat Secretary of Chuba Phong Gram Panchayat was instrumental in transforming a village reeling under perennial drought by aligning the MGNREGA programme to the needs of the village. With full guidance and support from the DDO and the Block team they constructed 120 household level water storage tanks of 10,000 litres capacity each.

The villagers filled up these tanks from the running drinking-water supply at night and used the overnight stored water for livelihood activities during the day.

With winters becoming increasingly dry, due to the impact of climate change, this investment in rural water security paid immediate dividends and the villagers were not only able to meet their drinking water requirements but also used the surplus water for vegetable farming and animal husbandry.

Under the MGNREGA Dhara Vikas program, the Nagi lake at Namthang which had dried up 30 years back was being revived and this initiative would further boost the natural ecosystem and ground water regime of the region. Under the guidance of Milan Chettri, this village has effectively demonstrated climate-smart governance on how to adapt and mainstream climate change concerns in ongoing developmental programs, to transform the future of a village.

The Voluntary Health Association of Sikkim (VHAS) received the Rozgar Jagrookta Puraskar (Employment Awareness Award) for promoting effective implementation of MGNREGA in the State of Sikkim. VHAS has been spearheading awareness generation and social audits over the last three years in the state.