500 crore package launched to ensure timely, uninterrupted wage payment under MGNREGA and check migration of labour
Residents of 20 vulnerable blocks in four Odisha districts will be allowed employment for 200 days in a year under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), as part of a special Rs 500 crore package announced by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
Wages under MGNREGA will be given to the inhabitants of the blocks located at Bargarh, Balangir, Nuapada and Kalahandi districts that will be at par with Odisha’s minimum wage meant for unskilled workers, Patnaik said on January 15, 2020.
Currently, the national average wage of a MGNREGA worker is Rs 178. The minimum wage of a MGNREGA worker in Odisha was Rs 188 per day prior to the package’s announcement. Now, s/he will be entitled to get Rs 286.30 per day, which is the stipulated wage of an unskilled worker in the state.
The 20 blocks have a total of 477 gram panchayats, which will be covered as ‘intensive gram panchayats’ under the Odisha Livelihood Mission. Each family in these areas will be brought under the self-help group (SHG) fold, according to the announcement.
All SHGs members will be covered under insurance. “One eligible youth from each family aged between 18 and 35 will be covered under a placement-linked skill development programme,” Patnaik said.
All women SHGs in seven other districts — Sonepur, Ganjam, Gajapati, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Koraput and Khurda — will also be brought under insurance cover by the government.
The government will also initiate a drive to register all eligible construction workers under the Odisha Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board. They will be given marital and educational assistance, pension as well as concrete houses, along with other admissible benefits.
The state government has also decided to provide financial assistance from community investment fund (CIF) and vulnerability reduction fund (VIF) to these SHGs. Any person in distress can approach the local block development officer for availing assistance from VIF.
District level MIS and a central data base at the state level will be in place to track migrant workers and ensure linkage with welfare schemes.
Online grievance redressal helpline ‘e-Shramik Samadhan’, developed by the departments of labour and Employees’s State Insurance could be used for strengthening the Shramik Sahayata helpline call centre functioning from the labour directorate in Bhubaneswar.
What prompted the move?
Odisha’s labour department had conducted a household survey across 30 gram panchayats in 2018, in collaboration with Tata Trusts that has been a pioneer in planning and implementing programmes to address the challenges of migration.
The survey identified around 11,000 migrant worker families in three blocks — Khaprakhol and Belpada in Balangir and Sadar block in Nuapada — to be distressed migrants, who did not find work for six months in a year, or every alternate day.
The average per capita income of the distressed migrant farmers was found to be less than the national or state average, while around 3,000 families were landless, the survey found.
Only 12 per cent of the youth were skilled workers but more of them wanted to be trained as plumbers, drivers, electricians and mobile repairmen, according to the survey.
The government proposed to generate work through the Panchayati Raj department to provide engagement for six months to those migrating in distress and sustain their livelihood in Odisha after getting the feedback.
However, as the stipulated employment assurance under MGNREGA was 100 days, the state government cleared a proposal from the central government to increase it to 200 days on the condition that the cost of additional 100 man days would be borne by the state.
“The corpus fund of Rs 500 crore was created to foot the expense of the additional 100 days’ wage,” an officer said.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.