Chandigarh, May 18: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday has asked the Centre for letting labour/cardholders under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) work in farm operations for both Kharif and Rabi crops during the 2020-21 in the state, as a special case, in view of the migrant labour shortage.
The Chief Minister has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to direct the Union Ministry of Rural Development to allow Punjab accordingly.
Captain Amarinder suggested that the Union Ministry of Rural Development could, in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, designate a specific number of man-days per acre (for paddy and wheat) that may be allowed under MGNREGS.
The Chief Minister said that this initiative would help to mitigate the rising labour costs for the farmers on the one hand and promote rural employment, and most importantly, help in preserving food security for the nation in the time of this unprecedented global crisis on the other.
Pointing out that both the Centre and the States are collectively engaged in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, Captain Amarinder noted that the Government of India has, in its recent economic stimulus package, had announced additional funds to the tune of Rs. 40,000 crore under MGNREGS.
Drawing Modi’s attention towards the problem of farm labour shortage in agricultural states, especially Punjab, as a result of the migration of labour, Captain Amarinder said that such situation is likely to impact agricultural operations adversely during the transplantation of paddy in June, as a large proportion of the labour engaged in these operations is seasonal migrant labour from UP and Bihar.
“Given the rising spread of the disease as well as return of migrants to their native States, it is well-nigh unlikely that Punjab will see any major return of migrant farm labour for the coming Kharif season,” added Captain Amarinder.