Chandigarh (Punjab) [India], May 18 (ANI): Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow labour/cardholders under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) work in farm operations for both Kharif and Rabi crops in view of the migrant labour shortage.
The CM urged the Prime Minister to direct the Union Ministry of Rural Development to give such clearance to Punjab.
"Captain Amarinder Singh suggested that the Union Ministry of Rural Development could, in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, designate a specific number of man-days per acre (for paddy and wheat) that may be allowed under MGNREGS," said an official statement.
The Chief Minister said that this initiative would help to mitigate the rising labour cost of the farmers, promote rural employment, and most importantly, help in preserving food security for the nation at a time of this unprecedented global crisis.
Pointing out that both the Centre and the states are collectively engaged in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, he said the Central Government has, in its recent economic stimulus package, announced additional funds to the tune of Rs. 40,000 crore under MGNREGA.
Highlighting the problem of farm labour shortage in agricultural states, especially Punjab, as a result of the migration of labour, the Chief Minister said such situation is likely to impact agricultural operations adversely during the transplantation of paddy in June, "as a large proportion of the labour engaged in these operations is seasonal migrant labour from UP and Bihar".
"Given the rising spread of the disease as well as the return of migrants to their native states, it is well-nigh unlikely that Punjab will see any major return of migrant farm labour for the coming Kharif season," the Chief Minister said. (ANI)