The government would converge 25 rural-centric employment generation schemes to provide work for 125 days in 25 areas to the migrant workers
in 116 districts of six states. Besides Bihar, these states include Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Jharkhand.
The scheme would not hit the exchequer at this moment since the Rs 50,000 crore allocated for various schemes in the Budget would be front-loaded for the purpose.
To put things in perspective, this amount is Rs 11,500 crore less than the Rs 61,500 crore provided under the flagship rural job scheme — MNREGA
— in the 2020-21 Budget. However, the allocation for MNREGA
has now been increased by another Rs 40,000 crore, making the new scheme’s budget half of MNREGA’s. But the programme is for 6.7 million migrant workers, whereas 140 million job cards are issued under MNREGA.
Also, there would not be a lot of front-loading of expenditure. According to current rules, ministries cannot spend more than one-third of the Budgeted allocation in the last quarter of the financial year. This means that at least Rs 34,500 crore of the Rs 50,000 crore would anyway have to be spent by December this year. However, after the front-loading, the entire sum would be spent in 125 days — by October-end.
As many as 32 of the 38 districts in Bihar
are included under the scheme. According to official data, about 70,000 migrants returned to Khagaria. In some districts, such as East Champaran, the numbers are much higher. At 153,022, East Champaran’s returnees are twice that of Kagaria’s.
The PM interacted with some migrant workers
to understand their skills and the problems they are facing. He said he got the idea of the scheme from migrant workers
of Unnao in Uttar Pradesh. These workers had used their skills to paint the school where they were quarantined.
Besides, work would 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, including in Bihar, have around 6.7 million migrant workers, and account for two-thirds of the “returnee” workers.
Modi said the work targeted under the scheme is based on the needs of different villages. For instance, workers in Telihar village in Khagaria will see opportunities in segments such as building community toilet, Anganwadi centres, village markets, digging wells and panchayat bhawan, he said.
Under the scheme, houses for the poor would be constructed, trees planted, sheds for animals built and potable water made available. Roads would also be constructed.
These amenities should anyway be there in villages, he said, adding the rural areas would also be provided with modern facilities such as internet at cheap rates and on durable basis. “Internet is used more in villages than in cities.” Workers would be paid in line with the stipulated minimum wages in the schemes.
The PM recalled that his Atmanirbhar Bharat scheme started with programmes for the poor. “We spent Rs 1.75 trillion under the scheme for the poor in just a few weeks of the beginning of the scheme. In three months, food has reached the plates of 800 million households,” he said.
Taking a dig at previous governments, he said all this would not have been possible had his government not opened accounts for the poor under the Jan Dhan scheme and not linked these with phone and Aadhaar card numbers.
“You remember the earlier times. Money would be given for you but would never reach you. This is being changed now,” the PM said.
He also reminded the people about the reform measures taken to free farmers from the shackles of the past. “We have announced Rs 1 trillion of investment for this purpose,” he said.
He said industries would be set up closer to farms to use the agricultural produce of the local areas.
Help industrialise Bihar: Nitish to PM
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help his government industrialise the state. He asked for a cut in the goods and services tax rate as well as income tax to enable setting up of industries there. The CM also asked for more provisions of credit for the micro, small and medium enterprises in his state. BS Reporter