Odisha seeks Centre’s nod for paying allowance under MGNREGA

We must minimise suffering of the people, particularly those at the bottom of the pyramid, says Naveen Patnaik

Published - March 31, 2020 03:42 am IST - BHUBANESWAR

The Odisha government has sought the Central government’s approval to pay unemployment allowance to workers engaged under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) for the job losses caused by the COVID-19 lockdown.

The Naveen Patnaik government has estimated an expenditure of ₹380.39 crore for unemployment allowances in the State. In Odisha, 36,10,797 active workers are enumerated under the rural employment scheme in the current year. They are now deprived of work under the MGNREGA due to the 21-day lockdown.

‘Protect livelihood’

“To protect their livelihood, an amount of ₹380.39 crore, which is one fourth of the wage rate as per the MGNREG Act, will be spent,” Mr. Patnaik said, seeking the sanction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a letter.

“While we are taking all preemptive steps as a nation to minimise the damage due to COVID-19, a global pandemic. We must also see that the suffering of the people, particularly those at the bottom of the pyramid, is minimised,” he said.

Stating that people have responded to the PM’s lockdown call, Mr. Patnaik said, “While we continue our fight with the impending challenge, poor people, particularly MGNREGA workers, have been badly affected due to the 21-day lockdown.”

Wages proposed

The Odisha government has proposed a wage of ₹188 per day from March 25 to March 31, and a revised wage of ₹207 per day to be paid for the following two weeks, from April 1 to April 14.

The State has sought to release unemployment allowances to the bank accounts of active MGNREGA workers in Odisha.

“This is a welcome step. MGNREGA workers will be benefited during the time of crisis if the Centre approves the request. We want the State government to pay ₹5,000 and ration for one month to all people, irrespective of whether they have their names on the list. Moreover, migrant workers should be given shelter, food and allowances,” said Suresh Panigrahi, a Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader.

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