Bhubaneswar, Oct 23:
The Odisha government has requested the Centre to consider granting a special Rs 500 crore labour budget over and above the budget already approved for the 2013-14 fiscal under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme to safeguard the livelihoods of the affected people.
In a letter to Union Rural Development minister Jairam Ramesh today, chief minister Naveen Patnaik requested him to consider certain relaxations under MGNREGA to enable the state government to take speedy restoration measures.
“The state may be allowed to maintain 60:40 labour to material ratio at the district level to facilitate large scale construction of durable assets in the affected districts”, Patnaik said in his letter.
He also requested the Union minister to increase the days of employment under the scheme in the affected districts from 100 days a year to 150 days for the year 2013-14.
Besides, the chief minister also requested Ramesh to allow removal of debris from private properties and public areas, engagement of labourers for restoration of electricity in rural areas and use of machinery for repair, restoration and reconstruction works under MGNREGA.
The Union minister was also urged to allow land development for the households for the genuinely poor under the scheme.
Stating that IT equipment worth Rs 35 crore damaged in the cyclone and flood require immediate replacement, Patnaik requested for a special grant equal to the said amount with an additional cap of 6 percent towards administrative expenditure under MGNREGA.
“For release of funds for the remaining part of the current fiscal, the different preconditions for such releases may not be insisted upon the state government,” Patnaik pointed out.
Stating that the cyclone has rendered lakhs of poor people homeless, he requested the Union minister to allot of at least three lakh additional houses under Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) for rehabilitation of these homeless poor.
Seeking relaxation under IAY scheme, the chief minister said as collection of building materials would be difficult on the part of the poor beneficiaries in remote villages, the state government may be allowed to engage government/private agencies for quick construction of houses.
Besides, the genuinely poor and deserving beneficiaries, left out of the BPL list of 1997, may be allotted IAY houses subject to certification by the collector and magistrate of the concerned district, Patnaik said.