With a notable surge in demand for jobs in the post-pandemic scenario, Kerala’s allocation of jobs under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) for the financial year 2021-22 has been enhanced to 10 crore person days from the 8 crore person days last year. An empowered committee of the Ministry of Rural Development took the decision early this week. This is the first time that 10 crore person days of work has been approved for the State.
According to MGNREGS State mission officials, there has been a sharp rise in the job cards issued as well as the person days of work awarded this year in the State, owing to the post-COVID-19 economic situation.
2.2 lakh new job cards
“We issued around 2.2 lakh new job cards this year, which is quite unusual. It shows that there is a huge demand for jobs in the rural regions. This could be fuelled by job losses in several sectors as well as the return of Non-Resident Keralites without much savings from their previous jobs. For the first time, we will probably be crossing 10 crore person days of jobs provided in the State in a year, by March. The previous highest was after the floods of 2018-19, when we hit 9.75 crore person days,” said an official of the MGNREGS State Mission.
Hike in ex gratia
Meanwhile, the State government has increased ex gratia payment for deaths or permanent disability of employees caused during MGNREGS works, from ₹25,000 to ₹75,000. The payment has to be paid within five days of the accident. The government has also eased the procedure for claiming medical assistance in case of accidents.
“Till now, there has been a lack of clarity as to at which level the clearance of financial aid for treatment and who should carry out the checks. Due to this, applications for medical treatment aid has been piling up in some places. Now, with these changes, almost everything can be cleared at the panchayat level, with a certificate from a government medical officer. This will be of much help to the MGNREGS workers,” said the official.