Keonjhar: In a historic step, Keonjhar becomes the first and only district in the country to provide minimum wages to all MGNREGA workers, a long-standing demand of leading economists and social activists in the country.
In order to secure and enhance the livelihood of rural poor and returning migrant workers in the wake of COVID 19 pandemic, District Mineral Foundation (DMF), Keonjhar decides to provide ‘minimum wages’ to all MGNREGA workers in the district, by increasing the wage rate from Rs 207 to Rs 298, a rise of about 44%.
MGNREGA is the largest wage employment programme in the world and aims to enhance the livelihood security of households in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment a year to every household whose adult members volunteer to work.
Collector-cum-Chairman & Managing Trustee of DMF Keonjhar, Ashish Thakare, said, “The current MGNREGA wage rate of Rs 207 per person per day will be ‘topped up’ with Rs 91, in order to match the minimum wage rate of Rs 298, notified by Labour & ESI Department, Government of Odisha, by utilizing the funds under District Mineral Foundation (DMF) Trust”.
Implemented at a cost of Rs 95 crore under DMF during FY 2020-21, more than 3.78 lack active workers in Keonjhar are expected to directly benefit from the initiative. A rural household in the district that completes 100 days of wage employment will now be able to earn as much as Rs 29,800 a year, under MGNREGA.
“While the whole world is struggling to cope with the economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic, the initiative to provide minimum wages to MGNREGA workers in Keonjhar will enhance cash flow in rural areas and help swiftly revive the local economy” said Dharitri Rout, a prominent social worker from the tribal dominated district.
Set up under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment (MMDRA) Act, 2015, with a mandate to alleviate poverty and improve human development indicators in mining areas, DMF Trusts across the country have cumulatively accrued close to Rs 36,000 crore so far. Endowed with rich iron-ore and manganese deposits, Keonjhar is the largest DMF district in the entire country.