Updated: June 9, 2020 7:30:12 am
Kerala’s decision to keep its elderly at home to protect them from Covid-19 infection will leave at least 4 lakh MGNREGA workers without job.
The state, which expects a spurt in Covid cases, has put its senior citizens under reverse quarantine, a method of keeping the vulnerable away from people who are likely to be sick.
Although work under MGNREGA, which guarantees 100 days of job to the poor, resumed in the state last month, those aged above 60 were barred from taking up work. However, the government later raised the age bar to 65.
Around a quarter of the MGNREGA workers will not be able to go to the field due to the age restrictions, said sources at the MGNREGA State Mission
“Of the 16.54 lakh workers who were on the roll in the last fiscal, 4,03,965 were aged above 60. Of them, around 85 to 90 per cent would be above 65. We have 11,000 people aged above 80,” said a source. While the share of the elderly in Kerala’s population is 12.7% according to the 2011 Census, the same among MGNREGA in the state is 24% as per last year’s data. In Kerala, around 90% of the workers are women. And majority of men who opt for MGNREGA are elderly.
Sources said there is a demand for job from the aged persons. “But we have to ensure their safety and follow the state government’s advisory. There is a section of workers who don’t have any other source of income. Many are destitute. There are others who live alone or who do want to approach their wards for money.”
A State Mission official said some village panchayats are allowing the elderly, in small numbers, to take up jobs. “However, no order has been issued in that effect. If the elderly workers do not have any other source of income, they can be allowed in small numbers provided they don’t have any underlying health issues,’’ said the official.
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