Bhubaneswar, Jul 9 (PTI) As part of the Odisha governments special COVID-19 package of Rs 1,690 crore for the poor, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Friday disbursed Rs 352 crore to 32 lakh workers engaged under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in the state from April to June.
Each worker was given an extra amount of Rs 50 per day along with his or her wages, given under the MGNREGA, as a result of which an additional amount of up to Rs 4,500 for three months was paid.
Addressing the gathering through video conference, Patnaik said there is always a special place in his heart for the poor and working for them gives him satisfaction.
'I'm really happy that this amount will help the families of poor people who worked hard during the pandemic,' the chief minister said.
Assuring the poor that such efforts will continue, the chief minister directed the district administration to create more man-days at the district level and provide employment to the poor.
'During the last one year, the poorest of the poor have lost their livelihoods due to the lockdown,' Patnaik said.
At the same time, the chief minister cautioned the workers that though there is a decline in the number of cases, the second wave of the pandemic is still active in certain pockets of the state.
Patnaik had earlier announced a financial package of Rs 1,690 crore for the poor people of Odisha as COVID-19 assistance. Assistance has already been given to landless farmers, milk farmers, street vendors, and other poor people to maintain their livelihood during the pandemic.
While 20 crore man-days were created last year, the state government has set a target of increasing it to 25 crores by the end of this year.
Noting that the financial assistance for the MGNREGA will help boost the rural economy, Panchayati Raj Minister Pratap Jena said as many as 32,18,005 MGNREGA workers have received Rs 1,448.79 crore as wages.
'Odisha is among the top four states in the country in terms of creating more man-days despite the pandemic situation,' Jena said.
Apart from normal works, the MGNREGA workers are now engaged in the renovation of ponds and other water bodies, watersheds, horticulture, roadside plantation, forestation, tube-well digging, development of land, coconut plantation, and creation of green fodder for livestock.
This apart, stress is also being given to providing employment and assistance to the members of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups, people with disabilities, and self- help groups.
In a bid to check the migration of workers, the state government has also made special provisions for 20 migration- prone blocks of Bolangir, Bargarh, Kalahandi, and Nuapada districts.
Efforts are on to provide 300 days of work to MGNREGA workers, he said.
MGNREGS workers from 314 blocks of the state were connected to the event by video conferencing. PTI AAM MM MM