Create a million person days under MGNREGS: Patnaik to officers

He also asked them to ensure food security for migrant workers returning to the state

By Priya Ranjan Sahu
Published: Tuesday 28 April 2020

Ensure food security for migrant workers returning to Odisha and create a million person days through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Scheme (MGNREGS), Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik asked top government officers on April 28, 2020.

In the next few days, many migrant works stranded in other states would be returning home and utmost care had to be taken to arrange their food and accommodation, quarantine facilities and sample testing, Patnaik said.

He stressed on increasing the sample testing to 15,000 per day.

The chief minister was holding a video conference to discuss preparedness on fighting novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) with officers appointed as observers for districts.

“Today, the control of COVID-19 is the main responsibility of the observers, rather than an additional one,” Patnaik said.

Odisha was the first state in the country to talk about bringing its migrant workers back home.

Patnaik had announced on April 19 that the Odisha government would bring back migrant workers from the state stuck in different states after the lockdown period. Around 0.5 million migrant workers have registered with the Odisha government for their return.

On April 26, he held a video conference with Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, requesting them to arrange for “dignified and safe return of Odia brothers and sisters” working in both the states.

Odisha has already kept 87,000 ‘guest workers’ (migrants from other states stuck in Odisha) in 2,610 camps, taking care of their food and accommodation. Now the impending return of lakhs of Odisha migrants working in other states poses a huge challenge on the state’s infrastructure.

Patnaik said the migrant workers and their families must not be denied food grain, irrespective of whether they have NFSA/ SFSA ration cards.

He stressed on making MGNREGS target-oriented to create employment for distressed people in rural areas, including the migrant workers, who would return home and those from other states stuck in different districts of Odisha. 

He asked the officers to increase the person days from the present 0.5 million to 1 million. He also asked the forest department to immediately initiate labour intensive work for kendu leaf pluckers to support their livelihood.

Till April 28, Odisha had tested 26,687 samples for COVID-19. Of this, 118 have been found to be positive. Till now, the state has registered a single death due to the infection.

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