Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGA) has enabled a jump in earnings and created much needed useful assets for villagers in Tribal regions of the state which have undergone a huge transformation in terms of development. COVID-19 came as an eclipse and the worksites did not open up causing deep stress to the underprivileged and the weaker sections of the society. However, the union government came out with a decision to open MNREGA works last month which came as a huge breather to many who took up jobs under MNREGA Act to make both ends meet.
MNREGA providing Jobs at the doorstep:
During the lockdown, many people who lost their job due to economic breakdown were facing a grave crisis, hailed the decision of the Union Government, which was simultaneously followed by the state governments to continue MNREGA works, so that others who lost their jobs and were willing to contribute in the development of their region could take up the job as a source of livelihood. This worked wonders amongst the rural poor, especially in the tribal regions.
The tribal region of Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh, where the working season is limited due to its topographical variations, say five to six months, have allotted development works in 61 Panchayats out of total 65 under MNREGA, and where the work is in full swing besides providing jobs to many at their very door step. As many as 785 development works are in progress with a total labour of 6931 who are thankful to the government for timely payment as well.
Honorarium under MNREGA in these regions is Rs. 248 per day as compared to Rs. 198 per day in non –tribal regions:
The allocation of Panchayats and labourers are done accordingly to complete the works in higher regions on priority. Around 328 development works are carried out in 25 Panchayats of Kalpa block, 399 works in 18 Panchayats of Nichar development block and 58 works are being carried out in 20 Panchayats of Pooh development block.What differentiate the tribal regions from the rest of the state is that the honorarium under MNREGA in these regions is Rs. 248 per day as compared to Rs. 198 per day in non –tribal regions. This is due to the topographical and geographical features of Tribal areas. “We have kept a target of generating 678327 man-days in the present fiscal, besides, the district has been allocated funds to the tune of Rs. 7918.05 lakh” as per Deputy Director, and Project officer District Rural \Development Agency, (DRDA) Kinnaur, Jaywanti Negi Thakur, to carry out MNREGA development works in all 65 Panchayats of the district and a sum of Rs. 827.85 lakh have been sanctioned for Kalpa Block, 4554.10 lakh for Nichar block, and RS. 2486.10 lakh for Pooh development block, she stated, adding that at present there are 19,173 Job card holders in Kinnaur.
Sonam, a local labourer from Pooh expressed her gratitude as she was able to feed her family from the earnings:
I am grateful to the government to have opened the works under the scheme, as it was becoming difficult to even fill stomachs of my family said Sonam, a labourer from Pooh and similar was the version of few others. The labourers are strictly following social distancing norms and other advisories of the government, says the Project officer DRDA, Kinnaur and we hope to complete all the ongoing works well in time.