Project has been drawn up on the lines of MGNREGS

The Aiyyankali Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme, drawn up by the previous LDF government on the lines of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNEGS), is not even in the sphere of discussion of the Corporation which is busy giving finishing touches to the People’s Plan project and the perspective plan for the next five years.

This State-funded project is aimed at providing 100 days of guaranteed unskilled manual work to the unemployed members of urban households.

While the Corporation maintains that the State government’s delay in sanctioning of funds for the scheme has pushed the project in the backburner, government officials say the civic body has been sanctioned Rs.5 lakh for the project way back in March.

“An amount of Rs.5 lakh has been transferred to the Corporation for the Aiyyankali project, and two data entry operators and an overseer have also been appointed exclusively for the project. However, the Corporation is yet to start any work on the scheme. The staff deployed for the scheme has also been re-deployed for other work,’’ an official with the Commissionerate of Rural Development says.

The worst affected by this delay are hundreds of MGNREGS workers from the five panchayats that were integrated with the Corporation in 2010. Since their panchayats have now become Corporation wards, they can no more avail themselves of the benefit of MGNREGS, the official says.

Corporation officials also say the amount sanctioned by the government is only meant to meet the administrative expenses for carrying out the preliminary works on the project. The local body claims to have already begun the administrative work with the money.

“The amount of Rs.5 lakh is just a token amount. It is too meagre to take up any project under the employment guarantee scheme. It will only be sufficient for making the preliminary preparations for the implementation of the project. We have already started preparing the labour budget estimates for works that could be taken up under the scheme. Soon after Onam, we will start the labour registration process,” says Corporation works standing committee chairman V.S. Padmakumar.

Corporation welfare standing committee chairperson Palayam Rajan says the reason why the civic body is reluctant to go ahead with the project is that it will become obliged to provide work to scheme beneficiaries within a stipulated period once job cards are issued.

“The fact is that the State government itself has crippled this ambitious project. Unless they sanction the fund how can we go ahead with issuing job cards. Apart from a token amount, there is no provision for this scheme even in the State budget,’’ Mr. Rajan says.

Mr. Padmakumar, however, says the Corporation is planning to prepare a detailed project linking the Aiyyankali Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme with the solid waste management in the city and submit it to the Central Government for funding.

“There is a lot of scope for this scheme with regard to sanitation and solid waste management. Workers can be deployed for our various decentralised garbage treatment schemes and also for cleaning up canals, drains and ponds in the city. We are confident that we will be able to evolve Aiyyankali scheme into a feasible sanitation and garbage management project and ensure the involvement of people in the city by providing them jobs through these projects,’’ he says.