Issuing a call to “turn adversity into opportunity”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday launched the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan, a skill-based employment scheme aimed primarily at migrant workers who have returned to their villages to escape the Covid lockdown distress.
“This programme is dedicated to workers. We understand your sentiments and also your needs. This programme is a big platform to achieve this. So far, you had been making cities shine with your efforts, now you will boost your villages and localities,” Modi said.
With a 125-workday mandate to create public infrastructure, with the involvement of 11 central departments, the Rs 50,000-crore initiative will focus on job creation in 116 districts in six states — UP, MP, Jharkhand, Odisha, Rajasthan and Bihar — that saw the maximum number of migrant workers returning over the last three months.
With 32 of Bihar’s 38 districts on the list, the scheme was launched from Khagaria’s Telihar panchayat by the Prime Minister via video-conferencing from Delhi, along with the chief ministers of five of the states involved and a representative of the Odisha government.
Striking a personal note at the launch, Modi said that he “got this idea from a quarantine centre in Unnao (UP) where migrant workers gave a facelift to the school with their whitewashing skills”.
Praising the workers for “standing strong” in the face of the Covid crisis that has “shaken the world”, the Prime Minister said that while the central government had been trying to give jobs to people in their home states, it had also been looking to boost rural economy and infrastructure by providing modern facilities, especially high-speed Internet.
Stressing that the central and state governments were focussed on the welfare of workers, the Prime Minister flagged some of his government’s key initiatives, saying that it was only because of Jan Dhan accounts that it was able to transfer relief funds to lakhs of migrant workers and the poor.
During the video-conference, Modi also interacted with some workers who had returned to Khagaria from other states and managed to obtain jobs near their homes. Referring to one of them, Smita umari, who has started bee-keeping after her husband returned from Delhi, he said, “We have to import honey and wax. You have chosen the right business.”
The Prime Minister also appreciated the efforts of about 9.5 lakh self-help groups in Bihar for encouraging people to take up animal husbandry and other opportunities available in villages. “We are also investing Rs 1 lakh crore for creating cold storages so that farmers get better price for their agriculture produce,” he said.
Earlier, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said: “After what people from Bihar went through recently in other states, most of them desire to work here. We do not want our people to suffer because of helplessness.”
Kumar also called on the Prime Minister to provide “special relief for setting up industries by considering GST and Income Tax rebates”, and “increase allocation for MSMEs”.
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