State for extending it to 150 days in drought-hit taluks too

Following the Centre’s directions, the State government has decided to provide 150 days of wage employment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) for households living in forest areas.

The decision would benefit several thousands of people living in the forest areas in the State, Munish Moudgil, Commissionerate for Rural Development, told The Hindu here on Sunday.

The State government has also submitted a proposal to the Union Ministry for Rural Development seeking extension of the job scheme from 100 days to 150 days in 98 drought-hit taluks of the State.

The additional 50 days of employment under the MGNREGA will be applicable to those individuals who have obtained pattas under Forest Rights Act 2006.

Nearly 20,000 people would benefit in the State by this decision.

The increase in the number of days of job would benefit a large number of forest dwellers in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa.

The Union Ministry of Rural Development stated that land-levelling, plantation and other activities are required to be taken up to make the life of forest dwellers more productive.

The additional job days under the MGNREGA would allow the households to take up additional work on their own land. Further, Forest Rights Act beneficiaries have been automatically included for assistance under the Indira Awaas Yojana.

Mr. Moudgil said that the State was awaiting response from the Centre on extending the number of days of employment in drought-hit taluks.

The State has sought Rs. 1,014 crore Central assistance for providing compensation to farmers who have lost crops, and also to implement drought-relief measures. The estimated crop loss on account of drought is Rs. 1,700 crore.

The government has spent Rs. 1,400 crore under the job scheme as on January 19, 2014 against the proposed expenditure of Rs. 2,100 crore in this financial year, Mr. Moudgil said.

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