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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Saturday, 20 April 2024 8.08 AM IST

A major relief

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The employment guarantee scheme under the Union Ministry of Rural Development is a major support to poor families who have no fixed income in the country. The requirement is that at least one member of the families registered in the scheme should be given employment. This type of employment should be available for a maximum of one hundred days in a year. However, for various reasons, that goal is never fully achieved. This is due to various obstacles such as delays in receiving central funds to pay wages. In the meantime, over 6.5 crore individuals nationwide were recently taken off the register, with the explanation that their employment card and bank account weren't linked to their Aadhaar. There haven't been any concerns about this in Kerala, where Aadhaar enrollment is around 100%. However, indeed, there has been a significant reduction in working days due to the lack of funds. Due to continuous interventions of the state government, this shortfall has now been nearly fixed. After the Local Self-Government Minister MB Rajesh put pressure on the Union Rural Development Minister, one and a half crore more working days have been allotted to Kerala. With this, it is assured that the state will get nine and a half crore working days under the employment guarantee scheme this year.

The state had demanded 10.7 crore working days. However, it was limited to nine and a half crores. Fifteen and a half lakh families will get relief through this. Last year, on average, 63 days of employment were provided under the scheme. This year, the state expects to increase it to 70 days. Kerala ranks third in the country in terms of wages. A worker who goes to work under the state's employment guarantee scheme would receive Rs 333 each day. This wage is three times higher than the one that was initially provided. However, the amount is very low compared to the prevailing wage structure in the state. However, the employment guarantee scheme is a great relief for poor families who are struggling without any jobs.

The main setback is that the Centre is reducing the share of the employment guarantee scheme every year. In the early days of the scheme, wages were distributed through local bodies. But now, the money is directly deposited into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries. The intervention of middlemen and officials has been entirely avoided, thanks to this reform.

Kerala is pushing for an increase in working days to 10.7 crore this year and the Centre has assured to consider this demand if the current 9.50 crore days are surpassed. The Centre has not yet taken a positive decision on the demand to include more unique sectors in the employment guarantee scheme. The shortcomings of this are also evident here. As the areas of employment are shrinking, people have to be assigned to cut grass and clear bushes on private homesteads. One can be relieved that one is getting a job in any way.

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