Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday, July 9, announced a COVID relief package of ₹352 crore for 32 lakh Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) workers in the state from April to June. The package is part of the state government's special COVID-19 package of ₹1,690 crore for the poor.
Each worker will be given an extra amount of ₹50 per day in addition to the daily wage of ₹207 that National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) workers get in the state, reported Hindustan Times. The state reportedly paid an additional amount of up to ₹4,500 for three months to the workers.
'Have A Special Place In My Heart For The Poor'
Addressing the function through video conferencing Patnaik said, "There is always a special place in my heart for the poor and working for their welfare gives me satisfaction, I hope this financial assistance will help the workers."
The chief minister added that over the last year, the poorest of the poor have lost their livelihoods due to the lockdown and therefore the state government had announced a special COVID assistance of ₹1690 crore for farmers, labourers, dairy farmers, street vendors, and other poor people of the state taking into account their livelihood. Under the MNREGA scheme, the Odisha government created 20 crore person days last year and had set a target to increase it to 25 crore by the end of the year. This year, it has created 7 crore person days till now.
What Is The MGNREGA Scheme?
Under the MGNREGA scheme, the government guarantees 100 days of employment in a financial year to each household located in rural areas. The scheme is key to providing livelihoods to poor villagers and is a backbone of the rural economy in difficult times. However, like all things, it has both proponents and critics. While proponents believe that it may be the only ammunition in the government's arsenal to fight rural poverty, critics have termed it leaky, wasteful, and simply ineffective.
In 2019-20, around 578 lakh households demanded employment under MGNREGA across major states, but around 512 lakh households received employment.
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