COVID-19: Punjab CM seeks financial assistance from Centre

Chandigarh, Mar 26 (PTI) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has sought immediate financial assistance from the Centre to clear all the pending liabilities under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme in view of the situation arising out of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter to Union minister of Rural Development and Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar, he raised the issue of pending wage liabilities of MGNREGA workers in Punjab, according to an official statement here on Thursday.

Singh apprised the union minister that as on March 24 wage liabilities of Rs 84 crore were pending for approximately 1.30 lakh workers in the state.

The chief minister pointed out that without the daily wages, the MGNREGA workers would not be able to sustain their families in the prevailing COVID-19 emergency, with no fresh employment opportunities available during the nationwide lockdown.

Expressing concern over the 'precarious situation', he urged the Union minister to immediately release the pending wage liabilities without any further delay, to provide the much-needed relief to the beneficiaries for subsistence of their families.

The release of funds would also help the state in handling the present situation to some extent, he said.

Singh said in the current financial year, Punjab had achieved an initial approved labour budget of 200 lakh person-days and the ministry had enhanced labour budget to 234 lakh person-days.

As on March 24, the state has generated 230 lakh person-days, with additional liability of Rs 120 crore pending against payment for material.  e underlined the need for release of sufficient funds to meet all these liabilities at the earliest. PTI VSD  KJ