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No better scheme than NREGS for sustainable livelihood of unskilled workers: House panel

The committee said, “The absence of reliable and authentic data/information on the numbers of migrant workforce and their movement back to their home States following the outbreak of the Pandemic has apparently impacted the relief and rehabilitation measures.”

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
February 12, 2021 2:57:28 am
Bhartruhari Mahtab, BJD member, National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, NREGS, NREGS scheme, sustainable livelihood, parliamentary standing committee, indian express newsStanding Committee on Labour is headed by BJD member Bhartruhari Mahtab. (File)

Commending the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, a parliamentary standing committee has said that there is no “better scheme” to provide “sustainable livelihood” to unskilled workers.

The Standing Committee on Labour, headed by BJD member Bhartruhari Mahtab, said, “The Committee are of the firm opinion that there is no better Scheme than the MGNREGS to provide sustainable livelihood to the unskilled workers including the inter-state migrant labourers.”

“In fact, by enacting the MGNREGA Law in 2005, the Indian Parliament had set in motion a process that provides for a specific and significant welfare provision, constitutive of the very idea of citizenship,” the committee said in its report on ‘Social Security and Welfare Measures for Inter-State Migrant Workers’, which was tabled in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

The committee’s observations come at a time when the NREGS has emerged as the safety net for returnee migrant labourers during the coronavirus pandemic. Over 7 crore households (10.43 crore individuals) have already availed of the scheme and 330 crore persondays have been created till February 11 during the current financial year — the highest for any year since inception of the scheme in 2006.

The report shows that 1.08 crore migrant workers returned to their home states during the pandemic.

The committee said, “The absence of reliable and authentic data/information on the numbers of migrant workforce and their movement back to their home States following the outbreak of the Pandemic has apparently impacted the relief and rehabilitation measures.”

“The Committee note that a number of appreciable initiatives have been launched by the Government, which are aimed at benefiting the Migrant Labour. The Committee, however, note in this regard that neither any guidelines were issued nor enforced for distribution of relief material to stranded Migrant Labourers. Also, there has been no element of Social Audit prescribed,” the report said.

“In short, since without identification and collation of data of the inter-State migrant workers no social security Scheme can be effectively extended to them, the Committee exhort the Ministry to persuade the native as well as the destination States to identify, collect and periodically update the record of such workers,” the committee further said.

“The Committee hope that the Covid-19 Pandemic and the resultant challenges and lacunae observed in the system in the distribution of instant and immediate relief to the needy migrant labours are duly taken note of and appropriate lessons learned to iron out the systemic flaws and inadequacies so as to strengthen the preparedness to effectively deal with any such emergent situations,” it said.

“The Committee further urge that a credible database of unorganized workers especially that of migrant labourers be put in place with a sense of urgency so as to ensure seamless delivery of relief packages to them at the time of distress,” it added.

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