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Rendered jobless, Odisha civil engineer labours under MGNREGA

Villagers are seen working under MGNREGA project in Bhubaneswar. Photo used for representation purpose only. File   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

An engineering graduate was found labouring under a Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme in Odisha’s Balangir district as the job market battered by COVID-19 is yet to open up.

It was on a regular field inspection of Balangir on Tuesday that District Collector Chanchal Rana came across a young man working silently, removing soil with a spade.

When asked, the young man, Anant Beria, identified himself as a civil engineering graduate. Mr. Beria said he had lost his job as a supervisor with Chennai-based construction company during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“It did disturb me. As an engineering graduate, he was supposed to be in a better place, doing more skilful work. But as we know, the pandemic is unprecedented in nature and brought out untold human miseries,” said Mr. Rana.

Mr. Beria, who has three other siblings, was brought up with much hardship by his father Baisakhu Beria, a daily wager, in Jurlakani village under Degaon block of Balangir.

After clearing his civil engineering graduation, he got a job in Chennai and was supervising construction work before being forced to return to his village due to the COVID-19 lockdown. However, Mr. Beria could not get job, even though some normalcy was restored in the past couple of months. With the financial crisis at home becoming acute, Mr. Beria opted to assist his father in MGNREGA work.

“We have offered Mr. Beria temporary work in our MGNREGA monitoring cell, where he will get more skilful work. We have asked him to utilise the opportunity to study hard and try to get a permanent job,” said the Balangir District Collector.

Balangir, one of the most migration-prone districts of Odisha, sends thousands of poverty-stricken families to work in brick kilns and construction sectors of other States every year.

Mr. Rana admitted people were being provided advance wages for migration through informal channels.

“This year, we have tried to provide enough jobs under MGNREGA to people so that they could earn for their family members. More than 65 lakh man-days have been created in six months. This target is usually achieved under MGNREGA in one year,” he explained.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2020 7:10:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/rendered-jobless-odisha-civil-engineer-labours-under-mgnrega/article32918805.ece

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