Jaipur, May 10: The Covid-19 infection is griping the rural areas of Rajasthan and the government has been forced to halt MGNREGA and other rural development project works in villages for the first time. Around 20 lakh people getting employment through these works will now be affected due to this. The works are stopped till May 24, but the order can be extended if the situation does not improve.
The number of active cases of Covid-19 infection in Rajasthan has crossed the 2-lakh mark on Sunday and this time more than 30 per cent of cases are coming from rural areas. People are not getting proper treatment as the early detection facilities or screening is not there in most of the villages.
To control the situation, the state government has imposed a 15-day lockdown in the state from Monday, and under the guidelines, MGNREGA and rural development works are stopped till the lockdown.
Around 30,000 works under MGNREGA and other rural development projects are going on in the villages of the state and more than 20 lakh people are getting employment through these works. These schemes proved to be a major source of employment during last year’s lockdown when thousands of migrant workers returned to their homes got employment in these schemes.
Statistics tell that in Rajasthan there were 104.12 lakh job cards of MGNREGA in 2019-20 that reached 111.95 lakh in 2020-21 and the total number of families that were getting employment in the scheme increased by almost 20 lakh during last year. So stopping the works of these schemes is considered to be a big blow to the families. Besides this, to follow the Covid protocol, the maximum number of workers on a site allowed has also reduced from 120 to 30.
Kamal Taak, a representative of one of the NGOs working for the workers of these schemes, said that government should think of an alternative source of income for these workers as nothing can be predicted about the pandemic.
Although the secretary of the rural development department KK Pathak has directed the district collectors to sanction as many projects as possible so that adhering to the Covid protocol, the maximum number of workers can be employed after lockdown.