Odisha To Improve Work Participation In MGNREGS

With many districts in Western Odisha suffering from drought, and migration of labourers appearing imminent, the government is planning to increase the number of working days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) – from 38 to 65 days.

The government has also planned to assign all active job-card holders into informal groups, called ‘Shramik Sangh’. There will be one such group for every 50 beneficiaries in each revenue village. This move is aimed at creating a job for each active cardholder through close coordination with government officials at the block level. Each group will have a ‘mate’ who would be responsible for providing jobs to other Sangh members.

“With a mandate to arrest migration and ensure effective convergence for sustainable livelihood development… we must relook at the strategy for implementation [of MGNREGS]. We need to focus on active job-card holders and provide them at minimum average 70 days of wage employment,” wrote Panchayati Raj secretary D.K. Singh in a letter to all collectors.

Along with increasing the number of working days, the government will include them in welfare schemes and skill upgradation schemes, also extending insurance coverage and other economic benefits to them. The Odisha government takes regular steps to keep a check on distress migration from Odisha’s poverty-stricken districts. A few years ago, the entitlement of employment was increased from 100 days to 150 in migration-prone blocks.

“To arrest seasonal migration, there should be seasonal targets for providing employment during the lean period such as drought, which is looming over Odisha”, Umi Daniel, an expert on migration issues, said, adding that even 10 years after MGNREGS, Odisha was struggling to provide an average of 38 days of employment.