Facing criticism over rising unemployment and rural distress, the Union government plans to launch a new project under which a stipend of up to Rs 20,000 will be given to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) labourers who undergo training in skills such as masonry or carpentry.
The project, called Unnati, is aimed at training unskilled MGNREGA workers so that they can move from distress employment to full-time jobs, sources said.
The Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) is piloting the project, and the standing finance committee (SFC) headed by the MoRD secretary is expected to approve the proposed project on October 22, sources said.
An official with knowledge of the development said, “The programme (Unnati) is meant to train one adult member (between 18 and 45 years) per house household, who has completed 100 days of work under MGNREGA in the previous financial year. The candidate undergoing training will be paid stipend for a maximum period of 100 days, and for one programme per household, as per the prevailing wages in the state concerned.”
According to data available on the MGNEGRA portal, people from 5.27 crore households worked under the rural job guarantee scheme in the last fiscal. Of these, 52.59 lakh households completed 100 days of work, thus making them eligible to avail benefits of Unnati. “The registration of candidates will be done through Aadhaar identification. The household from which a candidate will be selected for training will continue to enjoy 100 days of work under MGNREGA,” a source said.
Stating that duration of the project will be three years, the source said, “It is estimated that a total of 2 lakh MGNREGA beneficiaries can be trained between 2019-20 and 2021-22.”
According to sources in MoRD, based on the duration of the skill training programme and prevailing wage rates in their states, MGNREGA workers who complete the course will get stipend from Rs 5,970 to 21,500 between 2019 and 2022. The total fund requirement to implement Unnati for three years is approximately Rs 307.34 crore, and funds will be made available from the fund earmarked for capacity building and technical support under MGNREGA, officials said.
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, provides unskilled manual work for 100 days to eligible rural households.