States plan employment schemes for urban marginalized and migrants

The Odisha, UP and Bihar governments have started labour-intensive schemes to help the improverished

Employment SchemeImage Courtesy:TOI

The Odisha government last week announced a Rs. 100 crore Urban Wage Employment Initiative to generate employment for the urban poor in 114 urban local bodies (ULBs), reported The Indian Express.

The initiative announced by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s office, is aimed at benefitting around 4.5 lakh families and will run from April until September.

The scheme is said to involve “labour-intensive work such as maintenance and upgradation of toilets and water infrastructure” in ULBs while also ensuring that social distancing is maintained, a senior bureaucrat said. He added that the initiative would try to also support local artisans through projects like wall paintings and murals in urban areas. Mask-wearing would also be compulsory. All sites will have hand sanitizers as well.

The Telegraph reported a senior official also said, “If a particular zone is declared a containment zone following the detection of new coronavirus-positive cases, labour-intensive projects will be undertaken in other areas of the city.” The projects are said to involve work like cleaning drains, reclaiming water bodies, remodeling playgrounds, beautifying parks, building toilets and planting trees.

Law Minister Pratap Jena told reporters: “Rural areas have employment and development projects, such as MGNREGS, but urban areas do not. This project will try to address this gap”. He also said that the scheme will be carried out in association with the Mission Shakti Department (a department which assists women’s self-help groups). He said, “Nearly 4.5 lakh urban families will benefit from this scheme. The money will come solely from the state exchequer. Women’s self-help groups will be drafted into the scheme. Each beneficiary’s wages will be credited to his or her bank account every week.”

A government notification read that labourers above 60 and those showing symptoms such as sneezing or cough, would not be engaged in the initiative. It added, “If workers are required from outside, special transport facilities will be arranged by the contractors, construction agency without dependency on public transport.”

G. Mathivathanan, principal secretary, housing and urban development, told The Telegraph: “The programme will be implemented from April 20. Although the lockdown is still May 3, several restrictions will be relaxed from April 20.”

Apart from this, the Chief Minister’s private secretary, VK Pandian, is meeting with all the labourers to learn about their problems and assure them that the government would help them.

In light of this initiative, the government has also banned spitting and all tobacco products at such project sites.

The Uttar Pradesh government too has planned a similar initiative, The Times of India has reported. To help migrants tide over the crisis, the government has plans to employ them under the MNREGS outside containment zones and only with proper social distancing norms. Principal Secretary, rural development, Manoj Singh said, “Youth seeking jobs under MNREGS will immediately be given job cards. If a youth’s name does not figure in the job card of a family, then it will be added.”

In Bihar too, migrants who have returned due to the lockdown, will be provided employment by the government after being engaged in fox nut production, bee farming, banana cultivation, goat rearing and mushroom cultivation under the BIOTECH KISAN scheme.

Bihar’s Agriculture and Animal and Fishery resources Minister Prem Kumar said that under the Bihar Agricultural University in Bhagalpur, students have started taking online courses and the varsity had also helped in preparation of 5,028 quintal paddy seeds, reported Daiji World.

He said, “”Youths who are experienced in bee farming, banana cultivation, goat rearing and mushroom cultivation, etc and have returned from other states to Araria, Aurangabad, Banka, Khagaria, Purnia and Katihar will be encouraged to earn their livelihood under the Biotech-KISAN scheme.”

He said that farmers of Patna, Lakhisarai and Gaya districts have been educated about Khesari crop production under the Biotech Farmers Hub Scheme. “Post lockdown, skill development training will be started in a big way,” the Minister said.

Kumar also added that 4,200 masks were distributed to all 21 Krishi Vigyan Kendras in the state to protect farmers from coronavirus.


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