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State to push for change in job scheme working hours

Special Correspondent
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Chief Minister Oommen Chandy says the government has taken up the issue with the Centre.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy says the government has taken up the issue with the Centre.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said that the State government will continue pushing for change in the working hours under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

Responding to an adjournment motion in the Assembly on Thursday to discuss the murder of a 15-year-old girl, Arya Vijayan, at her home at Venjaramood on Tuesday, Mr. Chandy said that the government wanted change in the working hours to ensure that girl children were not left alone at home when the parents go out for work.

At present, the working hours under the scheme were from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The State government had taken up the issue with Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and urged him to limit the time of work from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. so that the parents could be home till the children left for studies and be back before their children returned in the evening.

Mr. Ramesh had agreed in principle to reduce the working hours by one hour, but the matter needed to be pursued further.

Arya Vijayan, daughter of two working class parents, was alone at her home when she was allegedly murdered by an autorickshaw driver who had reached the place asking for a screwdriver to repair his vehicle. Such situations needed to be avoided to avert similar incidents in future, the Chief Minister said.

Aid for family

Seeking leave for the motion, Koliyakkode N. Krishnan Nair (CPI-M) alleged that the police were showing reluctance to arrest the culprit. He also sought financial assistance for the family of the deceased girl. Palode Ravi (Congress), in whose constituency the victim lived, also wanted steps to ensure that the guilty was given exemplary punishment.

Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan accused the government of having deactivated the police force and wondered why the Chief Minister was not coming forth with a clear statement about the quantum of assistance that would be given to the poor parents of the girl.

Mr. Chandy said the gruesome murder called for heightened vigilance among every person. The Venjaramood police were investigating the case with vigour. No effort would be spared to nab the culprit. The government would also seriously consider giving financial support to the family, he added.

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