As the lockdown has affected the lives of the poor and daily wage labourers with no work or financial resources, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow the state to use the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) fund and release the unemployment allowance to the accounts of MGNREGA active workers of the State.
In this regard, the Odisha Chief Minister had written a letter to the Prime Minister stressing on the fact that poor people especially MGNREGA workers have been badly affected due to the lockdown as there is no employment. He further said in his letter, "I would, therefore, request you to kindly consider the above proposal and allow the State to use the MGNREGA fund and release the unemployment allowance to the account of the MGNREGA active workers of Odisha."
According to the chief minister, there are around 36,10,797 active workers under MGNREGA in the current year.
"To protect their livelihood, an amount of Rs 380.39 crore, which is one-fourth of the wage rate as per the MGNREG Act may be sanctioned as unemployment allowance that will certainly help them to mitigate their sufferings during this lockdown period, as we are not in a position to give them work," the letter read.
The Centre had released Rs 4,431 crore to clear pending wages under the scheme MGNREGA and will pay all dues by April 10, officials said on Friday. The announcement was made at a time a countrywide lockdown to combat the Coronavirus outbreak has left wage labourers with and financial resources.
The government said it will clear all pending wages under the employment guarantee scheme amounting to Rs 11,499 crore by April 10, out of which Rs 4,431 crore has been released till Friday, officials said. The funds will be transferred directly into the beneficiaries' bank accounts.
Officials also informed that individual-oriented work under MGNREGA such as work carried out by beneficiaries belonging to SCs and STs on their own land may continue. Also, the work done by women who are bread-earners of their families on their own land may also continue during the lockdown. But all other MGNREGA works have been stopped due to the threat of Coronavirus.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the nationwide curfew in the wake of the deadly Coronavirus pandemic that has gripped the world and has also made its way to India with the number of cases surging in the country as days pass by. The lockdown announced by PM Modi was to maintain social distancing as it is the only possible solution to arrest the spread of the pandemic.