In a first in the country, the Kerala government on Monday launched a welfare fund for Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) workers in the State.
Launching the initiative, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the workers who have completed the age of 60 will be entitled for pension under the fund which will also provide financial assistance for medical treatment, education, marriage, among other benefits.
He said 27 lakh people in the State depend on the MGNREGS and the Left government intends to make use of the scheme for the social development of Kerala. In a Facebook post, Vijayan said the workers need to pay a nominal monthly amount of Rs 50 as contribution to the fund and the government will also contribute an equal amount. He said for those who have paid the contributions for ten or more years, their families will get the benefits in case of beneficiary’s death.
The welfare fund has been formed as per the Kerala Employment Guarantee Workers’ Welfare Fund Act, 2021. The current BJP government at the Centre is reducing the funds for the MGNREGS. In 2020-21, Rs 1,12,000 crore was allocated for the scheme but that was reduced to Rs 60,000 crore this year, Vijayan claimed.
The Chief Minister said under the scheme, a family gets an average of 50 days of work at national level whereas in Kerala an average of 64 days of work was being provided. "At least 90 per cent of the work (jobs) under the scheme in Kerala goes to women. In the State, 27 lakh people depend on this scheme," he added.