The Tamil Nadu government will implement an urban employment scheme on the lines of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) at a cost of ₹100 crore to improve the livelihood of urban poor, Minister for Municipal Administration, Urban and Water Supply K.N. Nehru said in the Assembly on Tuesday.
“In the current year, it will be implemented in two zones in Greater Chennai Corporation, one zone each in other Municipal Corporations, one municipality each in under the seven Regional Directorate of Municipal Administration and one town panchayat each in 37 districts,” the Minister said while replying to the debate on demands for grants for his department.
Mr. Nehru said, unlike other States, the urban population in Tamil Nadu was growing fast and it would reach 60% of the total population by 2036. A total of four crore people are now living in urban areas, accounting for 53% of the total population.
Mr. Nehru added that as announced in the State budget, the government would implement the Kalaignar Urban Development Scheme at a cost of ₹1,000 crore. “Infrastructure including community hall, markets, modern libraries will be created in municipalities and town panchayats,” he said.
Government sources told The Hindu that this was a pilot scheme and the government would soon come out with guidelines for providing wages under the scheme.
The objective of the programme was to provide employment to urban poor, who had lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A committee headed by former RBI Governor C Rangarajan had also recommended that the Tamil Nadu government start an employment scheme in urban areas in the wake of the pandemic.
“Thousands of jobs were lost and the government discussed ways to create jobs for them. Under the scheme, workers will be used for activities such as desilting of water bodies and maintenance of public parks and other places,” a senior official said. Asked if the scheme would be implemented permanently, he said, “no decision has been taken so far” but added the government wanted to implement this on a pilot basis with its own funding.
The State government had submitted a memorandum to the Centre seeking funds for an urban employment scheme but was yet to get a response.