After initial row, govt may expand list of districts under rural job scheme

As many as 32 districts of total 38 in the poll-bound Bihar are included under the scheme.
Officials have sought to downplay the controversy that arose over the non-inclusion of districts in some states such as West Bengal in the recently launched rural jobs scheme, saying the scheme may be expanded after the end of the current month.   

The Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan was launched on Saturday to provide work for 125 days in 25 areas to the migrant workers in 116 districts of six states -- Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Jharkhand.

Any district in which over 25,000 migrants came back to their homes after the Centre implemented a nationwide lockdown in March was chosen for the scheme. 

Senior officials said the cut-off was decided based on the data provided by states before June 1. 

"If their number (of returning migrants) in any district exceeds 25,000 after June 1, we will consider including them too under the PM Garib Kalyan Rozgar Yojana," one of the officials said. 

He said in states such as West Bengal, special trains for migrants could not run for some time due to cyclone Amphan, which is why their return might have got delayed. That is why districts in the state haven't made the cut in the first list. The same may be true for some more states such as Chhattisgarh, he said.

This does not mean that if the number of migrants have swelled over 25,000 in more districts each, they will not be considered for the scheme. 

"In fact, we will do an assessment after June 30 again to see whether the list of districts for Garib Kalyan Rozgar Yojana can be expanded, depending upon the changed ground realities," the official said. 

The list is not static, it is dynamic and will keep on changing based on the influx and outflow of migrants.

As many as 32 districts of total 38 in the poll-bound Bihar are included under the scheme.

The scheme was launched in Khagadia district of Bihar by the prime minister last week.

According to official data, about 70,000 migrants returned to Khagaria district. There are also districts in the state where much more workers came back such as East Champaran where the number was more than double of Kagaria’s at 153,022.

Besides, work will be provided to migrant workers in 31 districts in Uttar Pradesh, 24 in Madhya Pradesh, 22 in Rajasthan, four in Odisha and three in Jharkhand. These districts have around 6.7 million migrant workers, and account for two-thirds of “returnee” workers.

Based on data gathered from states, the government has estimated around 10 million workers have migrated back to their villages after the national lockdown was enforced.

The Centre will front-load Rs 50,000 crore of funds allocated in the Budget for 2020-21 under various other schemes for this scheme.

The workers will be paid according to the stipulated minimum wage in the respective schemes of the government.

Twenty-five areas of work being provided under the scheme include building panchayat buildings, community sanitation complex, works under finance commission funds, national highway works, laying of fiber optic cable under Bharat Net.

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