Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan covers 116 districts in six states -- Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Odisha. The scheme has a provision to grant 125 days of employment to migrants.
In a departure from the usual stand of the Congress when it comes to schemes and programmes launched by the central government, top leaders of the grand old party have demanded the inclusion of Chhattisgarh and West Bengal districts under the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan, a Rs 50,000-crore scheme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday to provide employment to migrant labourers who returned home during the lockdown. The scheme covers 116 districts in six states — Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Odisha. The scheme has a provision to grant 125 days of employment to migrants.
Now, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury have demanded that the Modi government must bring Chhattisgarh and West Bengal under the ambit of the scheme.
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In a letter addressed to PM Modi, Baghel said neighbouring states like Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Odisha have been included while Chhattisgarh has been excluded despite having geographical, economical and social similarities with these states.
“Migrant workers who have returned to Chhattisgarh will get employment opportunities according to their interest and skills if the state will be made part of the scheme,” Baghel said in the letter.
He said that over 5 lakh migrant labourers have returned to Chhattisgarh and underlined that about three-fourths of the state is extremely backward and covered with forests, while about 80% of the population is from the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Classes communities.
“About 90% of the state’s population depends on agriculture and labour, and there was a sense of despair among the poor, agricultural labourers, migrant workers and marginal farmers as the state has not been covered under the scheme,” he said.
Echoing similar views, Chowdhury, who hails from West Bengal, has asked CM Mamata Banerjee to press the Centre to include the state under the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan.
“I am a little befuddled to notice that not a single district of my state has been incorporated under this program worth of fifty thousand crores and the life span is supposed to be 125 days, everybody in Bengal knows that the migrant workers have been leading pitiable lives in Bengal,” the Beharampur MP wrote in a letter to CM Mamata.
According to the government’s classification, those districts having more than 25,000 returned migrant workers have been picked for the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan. Reports suggest West Bengal districts Malda, Murshidabad, Cooch Behar, South 24 Parganas and West Medinapore fulfilled the criteria to be included under this scheme. CM Banerjee had earlier said that nearly 11 lakh people have returned to the state by train — an average of 48,000 in each of the 23 districts.
Reports say that the Trinamool Congress didn’t furnish the district-wise list of migrant workers to the Centre and therefore Bengal districts were left out.
The demand from two Congress leaders to include Chhattisgarh and West Bengal under the scheme is contradictory to the party’s views on Modi government’s schemes. The Congress is known for criticising the Modi government’s schemes and even blocking their implementation in states ruled by it.
Reacting to the exclusion of Chhattisgarh from the just launched scheme for migrants, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh too said that the PM should immediately include the landlocked state. He accused the Modi government of meting out step-motherly treatment to the Congress ruled state and sought to remind that 9 of the 11 MPs from Chhattisgarh are of the BJP.