Special Correspondent

Shelters to also provide basic survival material

Relaxation in the working hours for MGNREGA

JAIPUR: As the day temperatures continue to soar in this desert State claiming more human and animal lives, the Rajasthan Government on Tuesday decided to throw open the schools as temporary shelters for the homeless to spend the day. As in the case of “rein baseras”(night shelters) created along the roadside during the winter months, these shelters would also provide basic survival material such as water to the needy.

This decision, along with the one pertaining the reduction in the time for labour working under the MGNREGA, was taken at a meeting of the State's Disaster Management Authority presided over Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. He asked the officers to act positively to ameliorate the hardship of the common people resulting from the prevailing extreme weather conditions in the State.

Average temperature

The average maximum temperature has crossed 44-degree Celsius in most of the 33 districts in Rajasthan creating almost an emergency situation. Most of the desert towns such as Jaisalmer, Barmer and Jodhpur and the border town of Sriganganagar on Monday recorded temperatures between 46-47 degrees while the local newspapers reported as many as 20 deaths on that single day.

The relaxation in the working hours for MGNREGA will allow the labour to finish a full day's work by 10 a.m. after starting at 6 a.m. This means a reduction of 50 per cent in the stipulated working time. The specifications for measuring the day's “task” also have been modified to bring it down to 50 per cent of the original stipulated quantum of work. “The situation is so bad out in the open there that we have to do this for the sake of their lives,” Mr. Gehlot said talking to The Hindu.

The new specifications of the MGNREGA would be applicable to drought relief works going on in the Category II, IIII and IV municipalities. The District Collectors have been asked to follow the new specifications with immediate effect. They have told to immediately inspect the running of the relief operations, fodder depots and cattle camps in their respective areas.

The meeting also addressed the issue of delay in payment of wages under MGNREGA in many parts. Mr. Gehlot sought a report from the Collectors and Zila Pramukhs. “This is an excellent programme in which we get the full payment from the Centre. It is the State's moral responsibility to ensure timely payment,” the Chief Minister said. He also wanted the officers to look into complaints of payment of amounts lower than the stipulated sum.

“The omissions on the part of the administration in this regard would not be tolerated,” he warned.