THANJAVUR: To ensure availability of farm workers for agricultural tasks and also enabling them to move to areas where there is demand, village panchayat offices are to act as employment exchanges. Following the lockdown, farm workers have found it difficult to move between villages to work in the fields. To ease their movement to workplaces and ensure availability of labour where there is a shortage, a system has been devised for Thanjavur and Tiruvarur districts.
"Agricultural labourers who want work for the next day should register their names with the panchayat secretary of the village. The list would be communicated to the block development officers, who would consolidate it," said M S Shanmugam, monitoring officer for COVID-19 prevention work 47 for the three delta districts. "Similarly, farmers who need labourers for the next day should register their demand with the panchayat secretaries of their villages," he added.
After consolidating these lists, labourers would be allotted to farmers. "Those workers who have to travel a short distance could travel on cycles. For those who need to travel long distances, minibuses and vans would be arranged by the district administration," Shanmugam said. The costs for transportation would come from the State Disaster Relief Fund.
The enrollment of workers would be monitored by the Rural Development department. Those who have skills and willing to work anywhere in the district can enroll themselves. They would be deployed within the block or a nearby block according to the availability of work. The workers who have to travel long distances would be provided free transport to and fro, officials said. Agricultural workers would also be issued passes under the scheme, expected to rolled out in a day or two, officials added. This would ensure agricultural works could commence in time and work made available work to farm labourers.
Besides, the special loan scheme for the 9,600 women self-help groups (SHGs) in Thanjavur district would put cash into their hands. This would give a boost to the economy in the rural areas, officials hoped.