Rajasthan launches country’s largest urban employment guarantee scheme

“Scheme will provide 100 days of employment to needy families in urban areas. A budgetary provision of Rs 800 crore has been made for it,” said Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot

Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot
Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot

Prakash Bhandari

The Ashok Gehlot-led Rajasthan government launched the country’s largest urban employment guarantee scheme under the Indira Gandhi Urban Employment guarantee scheme to provide economic support to economically-weaker sections of society on the lines of MGNREGA.

“Coronavirus pandemic affected the livelihood of the common man besides the economy. MGNREGA launched by the UPA government with Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister provided support to the people living in rural areas to get out of the livelihood crisis. But there was no such employment scheme for the urban people. Thus, we decided to launch this scheme that would provide 100 days of employment to the needy families in urban areas. A budgetary provision of Rs 800 crore has been made for this scheme,” said CM Ashok Gehlot. also holds the finance portfolio.

Rajasthan has thus become the sixth state in the country which has so far framed such a scheme.

Urban unemployment rate touched 9.3 per cent in January-March 2021 from 9.1 per cent in the same period of 2020. The Periodic Labour Force Survey released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) said the unemployment rate among males of all ages was 8.6 per cent and for women 11.8 per cent during the period. It was 10.3 per cent a quarter before.

The survey showed that the situation has improved from April-June 2020, during the first lockdown when it was 20.8 per cent.

Considering the situation of employment in urban areas, especially after Covid-19, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour in its 25th report titled ‘Impact of Covid-19 on Rising Unemployment and Loss of Jobs/ Livelihoods in Organised and Unorganised Sectors’ mentioned that unlike employment generation programmes in rural areas, the plight of urban poor has not got much attention of the government.

The committee felt that building schools, hospitals, waterworks, connecting internal roads along with reforestation, soil reclamation etc. are some projects/ programmes which could generate substantial employment in the urban areas.

Moreover, there is an imperative need for putting in place an Employment Guarantee Programme for the urban workforce in line with MGNREGA, the committee recommended.

One of the basic concerns in the identification of unemployed youth in urban areas is different from rural areas. Secondly, the kind of jobs to be provided under the scheme will be totally different and will need a more skilled workforce.

Under the scheme announced by Rajasthan, employment will be provided for up to a hundred days in a year, and the state government will bear an additional expense of Rs 800 crore for this. However, Gehlot did not elaborate on how the scheme will be implemented.

The goals of MGNREGA include social protection for the most vulnerable households in rural India by enhancing livelihood security of the rural poor through the generation of wage employment opportunities leading to the creation of durable assets, rejuvenating the natural resource base of rural areas, creating a durable and productive rural asset base, besides others.

The Rajasthan Chief Minister has approved the norms for the urban jobs scheme under which a planning cell will be constituted at the level of local bodies for running the scheme in which various officers will be appointed on contract to run the scheme. The norms have fixed six per cent as the administrative expenditure on a budget allocation of Rs 800 crore.

The registration of persons in the age group of 18 to 60 will be registered on the basis of the Janadhaar card.

A state-level body would approve the works to be undertaken under the scheme.

The ratio for the material cost and remuneration cost for getting the work approved and executed of general nature will be 25:75 and for the work of special nature, the ratio of the material cost and remuneration will be 75:25.

The payment for the work to the beneficiaries will be made directly into their account in 15 days. The state government would create facilities for the labourers at the work sites. Provisions have been made to redress the complains and conduct social audit.

Mainly, the tasks have been clubbed under eight heads. First is environmental conservation such as tree plantation in public places, maintenance of parks, watering plants on footpaths and dividers, preparing nurseries under departments of urban local bodies (ULBs), forest, horticulture and agriculture.

Next is water conservation, where one may undertake works for the improvement of cleanliness and improvement of ponds, lakes, step-wells, etc.; construction, repair and cleaning of rainwater harvesting structures; and restoration of water sources.

Third is cleanliness and sanitation-related work. This includes works related to solid waste management, labour work, including door to door garbage collection and segregation, separation of waste at the dumping sites, cleanliness and upkeep of public/community toilets, cleaning of nullah/drain as well as removing waste created due to construction and demolition works.

Fourth are works related to the defacement of property. This includes labour work to remove encroachments, as well as illegal boards/hoardings/banners, etc. and painting of dividers, railings, walls and other publicly-visible spaces.

Fifth category has been defined as convergence, wherein people under this scheme can be employed in other Centre or state-level schemes, already having a material component, and which require labour work.

Sixth is ‘service’ which includes labour work at gaushalas and ‘multi-task services’ at offices of civic bodies, record keeping, etc. Seventh is simply work related to heritage conservation. And last is miscellaneous works, such as those related to security/fencing/boundary wall/guarding of urban civic bodies and public lands; development and management of parking spots within urban civic body limits; catching and management of stray animals, etc. Apart from all these categories, the government can add new tasks or amend the ones already included in the list. Shanti Dhariwal, urban development minister, said: “The guidelines have been issued, the recruitment process has been initiated by the District Collectors, posts have been sanctioned and the budget has been allocated.”

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