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State governments issuing job cards to migrants at quarantine camps

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New Delhi: After an increased allocation of ₹40,000 crore under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the state governments are issuing job cards to migrant labourers at quarantine camps.

The state governments have moved quickly to use the opportunity of additional funds. As migrant labourers arrive, the states have set up special camps for the mandatory 14-day quarantine period. The states have started the exercise of issuing job cards to labourers which they can use as soon as they reach their villages. Rajasthan rural development minister Sachin Pilot said: “We are using the time a migrant worker is spending at quarantine centres to issue job cards. We have relaxed the condition of an identity card, which could have been left in the village. Even a self-attested letter could be given to get a job card. We have never issued such a high number of job cards in less than a month.”

Jharkhand is also following a similar model. The state’s rural development minister Alamgir Alam said: “We have given job cards to about 5 lakh migrants. We will be giving more. The problem is also that of delayed wages. We are tracking the progress to improve wage disbursal.”

Despite the new guidelines being worked out by states, there still remains a common demand — doubling the number of days of employment. At present, the MGNREGA offers 100 days of guaranteed employment. Out of this, the state government funds 50 days and the Centre bears the cost for the rest 50 days. If a state wants to increase the number of days beyond 100, it has to bear the increased expenditure. Chhattisgarh rural development minister TS Singhdeo said: “All states have a severe revenue crunch because of the lockdown. It is difficult for us to bear the additional expenditure. We would like the Centre to increase the number of guaranteed days to 300.”

Source :economictimes

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