Punjab undertakes labour-intensive jobs amid pandemic

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Punjab undertakes labour-intensive jobs amid pandemic
Chandigarh:  Even as the state gets ready to utilise the additional allocation to MGNREGS to help the rural poor by creating livelihoods and assets, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday said the state has undertaken significant labour-intensive works in the villages to effectively leverage the scheme even during the lockdown.

The state government also plans to undertake a special drive this year, to enrol more workers and make new job cards to bring more families under the ambit of the programme.

This initiative is aimed at creating a sustainable response to address rural distress arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic, announced the Chief Minister.

The lockdown works included engagement of two persons per village as ‘Van Mitras’ to nurture the 550 saplings planted in each by the Forest Department to commemorate the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

The state government, on May 12, also launched a massive drive to clean and rejuvenate over 15,000 ponds in villages, which will not only help alleviate rural distress but also combat Covid-19 by enhancing cleanliness and hygiene in villages.

These unique initiatives are helping to address the rural distress caused by the Covid-19 pandemic by directly transferring wages in the hands of the rural poor, many of whom are women, said the Chief Minister, adding these programmes are in addition to the plethora of measures undertaken by the state to secure the interests of the poor in these difficult times.

Since last year, the procedure of identification, estimation, technical and administrative approval of works is being done online in the state, by means of a web based software called SECURE.

From April 1 all the MGNREGS work estimates are being made only through the SECURE software, thus ensuring that the lockdown restrictions did not obstruct the process in any way.

Incidentally, during FY 2019-20, Rs 767 crore was spent under MGNREGS, which is the highest ever expenditure in the state.

With this, a record total of 2.35 crore mandays were generated during the year, of which 1.38 crore were for women and 1.57 lakh for elderly (over 60 years).

During the year, a total of 7.53 lakh households were provided employment and a total of 1.27 lakh new job cards were made, covering the needy families.

The state government has now set a target of 2.50 crore mandays for 2020-21.

Giving details of the new initiatives, the Chief Minister said that the ponds renovation work, launched in a mission mode by the Rural Development and Panchayats department, is covering all the 13,000 villages of the state for the cleanliness and sanitation of the villages, along with generation of employment opportunities for the workers.

A task force has been set up to implement this drive in a time-bound manner.

Daily progress status is taken online, and the department will be working on identifying and rewarding the champion sarpanches of these drive, and will also compile the success stories of this drive.

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