Ramakanta Biswas

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to sanction an amount of Rs 380.39 crore as unemployment allowance to 36,10,797 Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) workers of the State who have lost their livelihood during the ongoing lockdown period due to Covid-19.

“While we are taking all pre-emptive steps as a nation to minimise the damage due to COVID-19, a global pandemic, we must also see that the suffering of the people particularly those at the bottom of the pyramid is minimised,” Patnaik wrote in a letter to PM Modi.

Stating that the people of Odisha have positively responded to the calls of the Prime Minister during Janata Curfew and 21 days lockdown, the CM said the State government has also taken many proactive steps to ensure the safety and security of the people.

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“While we continue our fight with the impending challenge, I would like to bring to your notice that the poor people, particularly MGNREGA workers have been badly affected due to the 21 days Lockdown,” the Odisha CM said.

He said there are 36,10,797 active workers in Odisha during the current year who are deprived of getting work under MGNREGA due to 21 days' lockdown.

“To protect their livelihood, an amount of Rs 380.39 crore, which is one fourth of the wage rate as per the MGNREG Act may be sanctioned as unemployment allowance that will certainly help them to mitigate their sufferings during this lockdown period, as we are not in a position to give them work,” the CM emphasised.

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“I would, therefore, request you to kindly consider the above proposal and allow the State to use the MGNREGA fund and release the unemployment allowance to the account of the MGNREGA active workers of Odisha,” the CM added.