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MGNREGS cover to semi-skilled weavers likely

MGNREGS cover to semi-skilled weavers likely
Highlights

It is incredible but true. The weavers in the state have been getting wages less than the labourers obtaining under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural...

It is incredible but true. The weavers in the state have been getting wages less than the labourers obtaining under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNERGS). Some 3.5 lakh weavers in the State are getting a daily wage of Rs 80 while labourers under MNERGS are being paid Rs 160 per day as their wage.A Taking the discrepancy seriously, the State government is making efforts to extend the MNERGS cover to the weavers' community that had been on a hand to mouth existence.

The government is contemplating measures to benefit some 1.20 lakh weavers in the State under the employment guarantee scheme. Moves were afoot for getting approval from the Central government to go ahead with the move.A It is estimated that about Rs 200 crore is needed for the purpose. Firstly, the State government has sent the proposal to the Central government to give permission to use NREGS funds to ensure the wages on par with the scheme to the weavers.

Speaking to the press persons on the issue, Minister for Handlooms and Textiles G Prasad Kumar said that the Centre denied the first proposal by saying that the weavers would come under "skilled labour" while the wages being paid under MNREGS were meant for unskilled workers.

weavers

"The government made a comprehensive report by explaining the plight of the weavers in the state and extend MNREGS to weavers by treating them as semi-skilled ones and sent it to the Centre", he said, exuding confidence over the positive response from the Centre. A He said that there was a provision in MNERGS to pay wages to semi-skilled labourers. "The lives of weavers would be changed if the Centre okayed the proposal", he said.

Prasad Kumar said that the MNERGS had linked to the Khadi Village Board and the labourers under the board are getting wages under it. "The aim of the government is to extend more benefits to the weavers to avert the suicides of them", he added.A Referring to the MNREGS, he said that it was a massive employment guarantee programme and the government spent Rs 22,510 crore so far under MGNREGS since its inception. He said that about 179 crore mandays have been provided in rural areas so far.

A total of 43 lakh families did get 100 days wage under the scheme. He said that the budget for the programme in the present financial year is Rs 3,375 crore, which is highest in the country.A The state government made an argument before Centre by saying that providing minimum wages to the weavers is the bounden duty of the government and there is no wrong in extending MNREGS to weavers, because there was no dearth of funds for the scheme.

The weavers' community in the state has been enmeshed in a web of miseries. Suicides of weavers continued unabated in the major centres such as Siricialla , Dubbaka, Dharmavaram, Chirala, Mangalagiri, Pedana , Gadwala, Rajole, Emmiganur among others. The assurances made by the elected representatives for implementing special packages for improving their crippled finances proved to be a mere lip services. Every year some 400 to 500 weavers were ending their lives by committing suicide because of the deteriorating economic conditions.

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