Rural poor to get unemployment allowance from January 19

Making ‘right to work’ a reality, the government will pay unemployment allowance to the rural poor if no work is offered to them within 15 days of their demand.

The process will come into effect from January 19. When someone applies for work, it is binding on the Rural Development Department to offer them job under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

Disclosing this to the media, Rural Development Minister D. Manikya Varaprasad said here on Wednesday that Andhra Pradesh would be the first in the country to pay unemployment allowance under the MGNREGS. The allowance is one-fourth of a day’s wages i.e., Rs.137.

The Minister added that employees or field assistants would be taken to task if they failed to offer work, and that it would reflect on their performance.

Another initiative from the Government is the formation of the federation of Shrama Shakti Sanghas (SSS) of MGNREGS wage seekers to empower rural households. As many as 220 SSS federations have been formed so far in 35 mandals across 15 districts. “Our target is to bring one crore wage seekers in the State under the federation in a year on the lines of SHGs,” he said.

Listing out the measures to render the MGNREGS transparent and plug loopholes, Mr. Varaprasad said the Aadhaar-enabled payment system had already been started in East Godavari, and that it would be extended to all districts by April.

As part of social audit, financial deviations to the tune of Rs.141 crore were detected, out of the Rs.23,000 crore expenditure so far. Of this Rs.63 crore was found to be misappropriated, and Rs.21 crore was recovered. Nearly 4,000 field assistants were removed for discrepancies, the Minister said.

He added that all rural development activities were planned and monitored by the AP Rural Development Academy. The Indira Jalaprabha, a scheme to convert fallow lands of SCs and STs into cultivable lands was proving a success. Of the 10 lakh acres targeted in the next three years, horticulture and crops were being raised in 45,000 acres. About 30,000 farm labourers turned farmers, thanks to the scheme, Mr. Varaprasad said.

He also released the human resource policy document for field assistants.