Bhubaneswar: In a mission to restart livelihood for migrant returnees and other needy families who mostly depend on the informal economy and had to lose their livelihood due to the COVID-19 in Odisha, sixteen district level help-desks have been set up to link them with various livelihood based schemes and employment opportunities, including the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
The help-desk will offer specific livelihood information, food security programs, and other government assistance announced by the state and central government especially during the COVID-19 outbreak. Odisha Shramajeebee Mancha (OSM) and Mahila Shramajeebee Mancha, Odisha (MSMO) have launched this initiative as a part of their livelihood campaign entitled Prabashee Shramaku Na Karibaa Mana, Nija Gaon Re Karibaa Jeebika Arjana, which means, to promote livelihood at the locality and avoiding distress migration.
Balangir, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Gajapati, Koraput, Nabarangpur and Rayagada are among the 11 migration prone districts where the help desks have been set up. As the influx of the migrant returnees is large in numbers, one of the immediate challenges for the returnees will be their livelihood prospects. Similarly, other districts where help-desks have been set up, are Malkangiri, Kandhamal, Boudh, Nayagarh, Mayurbhanj, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Sundergarh, and Deogarh. In these districts, tribal people have to face many difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The greater chunk of minor forest produce is gathered between April and June every year and the lockdown has stopped them to collect the forest produce for the entire year.
“The help-desk facility is useful for such communities who seek work at this critical time. People can call us, register their issues over telephone or visit our help-desk centres which are located in the district headquarters, to know about schemes and Act that concern them. We are there to help“, says Mukunda Madkami, a Sangathan member of Shramajeebee Sangathan and an in-charge of the district level help-desk centre, set up in Malkangiri.
“We have so far been successful to mobilise work under MGNREGA for around 60000 households per day in these 16 districts for two weeks consecutively, which we had started on a campaign mode from 1st June. Our Janasathis (grassroots workers) have been visiting villages, interacting with the people and persuading them to benefit from various government schemes which are announced by both the central and the state government during COVID-19”, says Anjan Pradhan, the Convener of Odisha Shramajeebee Mancha.
According to the data provided by IPR Department, Government of Odisha on June 11, 5, 22,148 Odias has returned to Odisha since 3rd May. “This puts us in a humongous task. With the Odisha government bracing for effective implementation of MGNREGA in the state, the help-desk will serve crucial”, says Shanti Bhoi, State President of Mahila Shramajeebee Mancha, Odisha.
Meanwhile, the State government on Sunday announced that under the MGNREGA scheme, it will provide 20 crore person-days for migrants in excavating around 1.3 lakh ponds across the State.