Jharkhand unveils three schemes to add rural jobs

The three schemes have been devised to operate in convergence with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme

May 04, 2020 11:49 pm | Updated 11:49 pm IST - BHUBANESWAR

Faced with the possibility of a steep increase in unemployment in rural areas following the expected return of a large number of stranded migrant workers from other States, the Jharkhand government on Monday announced three labour intensive programmes to add jobs in the rural economy.

The three schemes have been devised to operate in convergence with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

According to data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CIME), the State is reeling under severe joblessness with the unemployment rate pegged at 47.1% — double the national average of 23.5%. The arrival of an estimated 5 to 6 lakh migrant workers is likely to worsen the situation.

Chief Minister Hemant Soren unveiled in Ranchi three schemes to create wage employment in rural areas: Birsa Harit Gram Yojana (BHGY), Neelambar Pitambar JAL Sammridhi Yojana (NPJSY) and Veer Sahid Poto Ho Khel Vikas Scheme (VSPHKVS).

The BHGY envisages an afforestation programme that would cover more than two lakh acres of unused government fallow land. As part of the scheme, about five lakh families would each be provided 100 fruit bearing plants. Initial plantation, maintenance, land work and afforestation would be taken up through MNREGA. The government is targeting to plant more than 5 crore fruit bearing plants in the next few months.

It is estimated that each family would receive an annual income of ₹50,000 from the fruit harvest after three years while the ownership of land would remain with the government. BHGY is expected to generate about 25 crore persondays of work in the next 5 years. “We are beginning a new era of sustainable development in the State,” said Mr. Soren.

With the NPJSY, the government is aiming to create agro-water storage units by arresting rainwater and ground water run-off. Almost 5 lakh acres of cultivable land can be irrigated through the initiative, the State government said.

Marginal land holders and farmers would be able to store an increased volume of 5 lakh crore litres of rain and ground water every year. An estimated 10 crore persondays are expected to be generated in the next 4-5 years through this scheme, which would primarily be focused on the drought-hit region of Palamu division.

The VSPHKVS has been conceived as a grassroots sports infrastructure scheme, that would function in close convergence with MNREGA. As many as 5,000 sports grounds would be developed across the State with at least one each in all 4,300 panchayats. The government hopes to generate 1 crore persondays through the scheme in the current financial year.

“Jharkhand has been the cradle of sportspersons in the disciplines of hockey, archery and football,” observed Mr. Soren. “In spite of poverty, structural challenges and poor infrastructure, young boys and girls have braved all odds and made the State and country proud on numerous occasions,” said the chief minister, who also holds the sports portfolio.

After provisioning for necessary sports equipment, these facilities would act as feeder centres to existing and future State level academies in hockey, archery, football and athletics, he said.

“We intend to spend ₹20,000 crore towards payment of wages in the labour intensive schemes,” said Mr. Soren.

About 6.42 crore persondays were generated through MNREGA in the State in the last fiscal year. Close to 13.85 lakh households had received jobs compared with 5.36 crore persondays and only 12.73 lakh households in 2018-19. Due to the lockdown, only 1.59 lakh workers have received work under the rural job schemes in the current financial year.

More than 6.61 lakh migrant labourers are reported to have been stranded at 14,948 locations outside the State during the lockdown, according to the State’s Labour, Planning and Training department.

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