Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik.(HT file)
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik.(HT file)

Odisha govt plans to launch employment scheme for urban poor

  • The scheme aims at reduction in livelihood vulnerabilities of the urban poor including migrant labourers and informal workers.
By Debabrata Mohanty, Bhubaneswar
UPDATED ON JAN 23, 2021 10:57 PM IST

In a bid tgive a fillip to employment in urban areas ahead of civic polls later this year, the Naveen Patnaik government plans to convert an existing wage employment initiative that it had launched during Covid-19 lockdown into a full-fledged scheme to achieve the objective of sustainable livelihood opportunities for about 4.5 lakh urban poor families.

Titled Mukhyamantri Karma Tatpara Abhiyan or Mukta, the scheme aims at building on the relative success of the Urban Wage Employment Initiative that was launched in April last year during Covid-19 lockdown to help the informal workforce in the state’s 114 urban local bodies. Under the initiative, around 100 crore was allocated for all labour-intensive projects in the urban local bodies in the state for providing temporary employment to the urban poor.

As per the urban development department, in the last 9 months, more than 6,000 projects have been completed under the initiative with an expenditure of 70 crores spent and generation of 13 lakh person-days generated. At least 3.5 lakh workers, of which 40 per cent were women, participated in the initiative.

To build on the success of the initiative, the department now plans to make it a full-fledged scheme called Mukhyamantri Karma Tatpara Abhiyan under which activities like stormwater drainage, rainwater harvesting, green cover increase, sanitation and creation of community centres and peripheral development around water bodies would be undertaken.

“The new scheme would be NREGA scheme for urban areas,” said Pratap Jena, minister for urban development. “This would be a state government programme funded from its own budget."

Officials of the urban development department said the scheme will build on the existing and robust welfare schemes, legislations and technological interventions (like GIS database) and converge and integrate funds and resources of its own with those of the large on-going welfare schemes.

"The scheme aims at reduction in livelihood vulnerabilities of the urban poor including migrant labourers and informal workers, economic empowerment of the urban informal workers especially economic empowerment of women informal workers, increased involvements and empowerment of women self-help groups and slum development associations. It would be an urban equivalent of NREGS and wages of workers would be credited to their bank account through Direct Benefit Transfer," said a senior official of the department.

As Odisha receives high rainfall over a short period during monsoon, desilting and repair of stormwater drains to prevent local flooding would be a big component of the programme. They create systems to conserve rainwater, prevent flooding and beautify the state’s urban areas, rainwater harvesting structures would be constructed to conserve water and recharge groundwater sources and natural ponds and reservoirs.

In addition, there will be development of new water bodies, public parks and playgrounds based on local needs and land availability, all with proper walking tracks, adequate lighting, drinking water, toilets, garbage bins and plenty of greenery. Manual clearing of water hyacinths in existing ponds and plantation drives on public land, roadsides and on river banks are envisaged.

The scheme will bolster the resilience in cities by strengthening the capacities of community organisations of the urban poor to execute the scheme activities, by reducing the economic vulnerabilities of the urban poor and by creating climate-resilient assets. The scheme is expected to create community assets worth more than 150 crores primarily in the form of Parichaya centres and Mission Shakti Grihas. The scheme will combine resources of the ongoing development schemes with innovative approaches and technology. Further, the projects and institutions created under the Scheme will contribute to building resilience in communities.

Officials said by safeguarding the livelihood needs and rights of the urban poor and by using innovative technology, appropriate implementation approaches and community strengthening, the scheme will prove to be unique safe, resilient and sustainable. The scheme is expected to generate more than 35 lakh man-days per year.

The new wage employment scheme for the urban poor is the latest among a series of measures by the ruling BJD government to woo the informal workers in cities. Last month, the state government had sanctioned 1.39 lakh dwelling houses for urban homeless persons in 114 towns and cities of Odisha under the Odisha Urban Housing Mission.

In April 2019, the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh had launched a similar employment scheme called ‘Mukhyamantri Yuva Swabhiman Yojana’ for young people in urban areas that guaranteed 100 days of employment every year to young people. However, the scheme did not meet with much success as only 3 per cent of the urban youth in Madhya Pradesh who were offered 100 days of employment under a state job guarantee scheme received their stipends over next 6 months.

In June 2020, Hemant Soren government in Jharkhand had launched a 100-day employment scheme for urban unskilled workers calling it Mukhyamantri Shramik (Shahri Rozgar Manjuri For Kamgar) Yojna.

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