MGNREGA projects save money and provide jobs during pandemic in India

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Battling a financial crisis on account of Covid-19 pandemic, crash of tourism industry and non-resumption of mining, the Goa government is now using MGNREGA scheme to cut costs on basic developmental projects and give employment.

Inaugurating a project related to desilting of Selaulim irrigation canal project in South Goa’s Cuncolim village, Goa Water Resources Minister Filipe Neri Rodrigues said that works sanctioned under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme gave twin benefits of saving costs as well as providing employment to villagers in times of pandemic.

“Managing finances is an issue now. From where will we get the money? MGNREGA scheme serves both the purposes (of providing jobs and cutting costs); plus, the government saves a lot of money”, Rodrigues said.

We normally used to give a contract for cleaning and dredging works… a lot of money used to be spent on contractors, Rodrigues said.

As much as Rs 80 lakh will be spent under MGNREGA scheme on the desiltation work, for which area farmers whose lands are located along the canal have been roped in to do manual work.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and his Deputy Chandrakant Kavlekar have stated on several occasions the difficulties faced by the government due to loss of revenue due to the pandemic and prolonged lockdown.

Kavlekar said that the availability of central funds under the MGNREGA scheme, especially for public works carried out by the Water Resources Ministry, would go a long way in saving state revenue and generating employment locally.

“People will get work and farmers will also benefit without excessive burden on the state’s finances. It is not difficult to run a state when there is income generated from mining activity and tourism. But it is not so easy when there is a pandemic and therefore a financial crisis,” Kavlekar said.

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