Like many other people engaged in the hospitality industry, 36-year-old Pawan Kumar from Fingask Estate in Shimla lost his job at a local hotel when Covid-19 forced the country into a lockdown earlier this year.
After nearly two months of remaining out of work, Kumar approached his area councillor seeking a new job.
He was asked to fill a form, and within days, the Shimla Municipal Corporation issued him a job card, employing him as a sanitation worker. Kumar has been hired for 120 days per year under an urban employment scheme launched by the Himachal Pradesh government in May keeping in view the loss of livelihoods due to the ongoing pandemic.
He is among 150 people in Shimla who have been provided unskilled waged employment by the MC under the Mukhya Mantri Shahri Ajeevika Guarantee Yojna, which guarantees 120 days of employment to each household in urban areas of the state.
The beneficiaries have been employed by municipal corporations, municipal councils and nagar panchayats across the state for unskilled works such as sanitation, road construction or any other project being executed by the urban local body. Poonam, a resident of Ruldu Bhatta in Shimla said that she learnt about the scheme from one her neighbours and applied for it. She, too, has been engaged in sanitation work and gets paid Rs 3,700 every 14 days, she said.
According to the state Urban Development Department, around 2,900 people have applied for the scheme so far, out of whom 1,363 have already been given work. Some of the areas with a high number of beneficiaries include Sarkaghat (341), Sundernagar (264), Nahan (257), Kangra (207) and Bilaspur (196), an official said. Any urban resident aged between 18 and 65 can apply for the scheme, and if more than one person from a household is employed, the 120-day period gets divided among them. The beneficiaries are entitled to the minimum wage notified by the state government.
Large number of skilled workers reportedly returned to the state during the pandemic after losing their jobs. The state government has started a ‘Skill Register’ to maintain a database of all skilled workers looking for jobs, and also employers in search of workers. Around 14,000 people have registered on https://skillregister.hp.gov.in/ so far, state officials said, and some of them have been hired by private employers.
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