In a bid to tide over unemployment plaguing city-based workers reeling from the coronavirus lockdown, the Centre is planning to extend its flgaship job programme MGNREGA to the cities, the Indian Express reported.
When finalised, the programme will mostly be started in smaller cities and is estimated to cost around Rs 350 billion ($4.B billion), Sanjay Kumar, a joint secretary in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs was quoted as saying.
Kumar said the Centre has been mulling the idea since last year but the coronavirus and the economic slump that followed gave the plan a big thrust.
The Modi government is spending over Rs1 trillion in its exisiting rural job programme, in which workers can earn a guaranteed minimum daily wage of Rs 202 for at least 100 days a year.
The urban workers programme will cushion the blow for those who have been struck by the economic slump due to the pandemic lockdown, which saw the country suffering its worst GDP nosedive in history.
Kumar said as big city projects will require more professional expertise, the programme will be started from the small cities initially.
People are involved in local public-works projects such as road-building, well-digging and reforestation as part of the rural programme. The programme covers 270 million people and has also been used to provide jobs to the migrants who lost employment during the lockdown.