The state Cabinet, on Wednesday, approved the formation of a separate fund to offer more jobs in urban areas under the employment guarantee scheme (EGS). The scheme will be extended to major cities such as Mumbai, Thane and Nagpur and will create more jobs in smaller municipal areas.
The decision to implement the scheme in bigger cities would be taken after seeking the opinion of a consultancy firm on ways of implementing it in urban areas.
"The Cabinet is open to extending the scheme to bigger cities. I have asked my department to appoint a firm such as the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Tiss). We plan to start a pilot project in Nagpur," said Nitin Raut, EGS minister.
The Hindustan Times had reported, on Wednesday, that the Cabinet plans to take such a decision.
"We could not provide more jobs in urban areas because of administrative hassles. But after amending the state act as per the Centre's legislation - the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) 2005 - we will be able to help the needy," said Raut.
According to the 2011 census, the state's urban population has increased to about 45% of the total population and unemployment is a major concern.
The amended act will be tabled for approval in the budget session of the state legislature which begins on March 15.
The state pioneered the job scheme (EGS) in 1970s, a precursor to Centre's scheme named after Mahatma Gandhi.
The Centre provides work for 100 days in a year to a rural family while the Maharashtra act offers a job 365 days a year to every unemployed unskilled person.
Raut said that the Cabinet has agreed in-principle to make more funds available for the state scheme.
A senior official in the EGS department said that ministers such as Harshvardhan Patil and Patangrao Kadam have asked the Cabinet as to why more money was not being released from a reserve fund of Rs2,000 crore that was kept exclusively for the state EGS.
The state raises the EGS fund by taxing employees as well as traders and contributing an equal amount to it.