Ensuring sustained intervention for flood-ravaged Uttarakhand’s rehabilitation, the Ministry of Rural Development has approved the State’s request for a special relief package under the UPA-flagship Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme.

Jairam Ramesh, Minister for Rural Development has approved the Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna’s specific requests after their meeting earlier this month.

According to details of this relief package disclosed by Mr. Ramesh in a letter to Mr. Bahuguna, the State can utilize a special package of Rs. 500 crore labour budget under MNREGA for disaster mitigation, over and above the budget of Rs. 450 cores which has already been approved for 2013-14.

Now onwards, people in crisis-hit villages of Uttarakhand will get employment for 150 days instead of 100 days under the MGNREGA scheme in view of the huge losses they have suffered in the recent calamity.

“There are 3 elements to our relief and rehabilitation intervention including rural roads, rural housing and MGNREGA. We have doubled the allocation of housing units in the Uttarakhand under Indira Awas Yojna,” Mr. Ramesh told The Hindu.

Additionally, the State will now maintain the 60:40 labour to material ratio at the district level instead of Gram Panchayat / block level to facilitate construction of semi-permanent and permanent structures.

The removal of debris from roads shall now be allowed under MGNREGA along with the removal of debris from private properties and public areas in rural areas.

Previously, the Rural Development Ministry had doubled the allocation of housing units in the Uttarakhand under Indira Awas Yojna by 14,000. The ministry had also announced a separate package of Rs. 336 crore to construct roads under Prime Minister's Grameen Sadak Yojna (PMGSY). In addition, the Central Government has offered to provide additional funds to upgrade routes not covered under PMGSY in Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Pithoragarh and Bageshwar districts.

Mr. Ramesh assured further assistance and remained open to an increase in budgetary allocation in rebuilding Uttarakhand, if need be.