PALAKKAD: Forming 28 new municipalities in the state has not only dealt a heavy blow to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act(MNREGS) workers, mostly women, but it might also drain the state coffers.
The MNREGS is a panchayat-oriented programme, and the new municipalities will no longer come under its ambit. Its alternative in municipalities, the state-funded Ayyankali Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme (AUEGS), may not be able to absorb all the displaced jobs. Even if AUEGS manages to accommodate all the workers, then the state government would have to sanction additional funds. “Under the MNREGS, each family is provided 100 days of employment at `229 daily. Under the programme, 75 per cent of material cost and wages of unskilled labour is borne by the Centre. The state government bears only 25 per cent of the material cost and administration expenses,” said Anil, Assistant Development Commissioner of the Rural Development Department.
“The Ayyankali scheme, which was implemented on April 1, 2012 in the state, was given `20 crore in the first year. But in 2015-16, only `15 crore was sanctioned. However, due to the asset creation, demand in urban areas is sparse, and less than `5 crore was spent last year,” said former Municipal secretary and director of Urban Housing Mission Binu Francis.
P K Sanil Kumar, the RDD Joint Development Commissioner, said the job plans under the Ayyankali scheme could begin only in the next financial year, as the labour budget and action plan have to be prepared three months in advance, which meant loss of huge amount of working days. “Given that each family was provided 100 days of work annually, the people in Pattambi were getting 67,300 days of work. The workers here were already given 21,195 days till October 30 - last day of the MNERGS scheme. So, in the newly created 28 municipalities, a massive amount of working days will be pending,” said an RDD official.
Principal secretary of Urban Development and Local Self Government James Varghese said the Ayyankali scheme could absorb the displaced workers.