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Pradeep Singh

Bhubaneswar: With lakhs of migrants returning back to the State amid COVID-19 lockdown, an uncertain future stares at them as many believe that providing employment & livelihood support to the returnees will be an uphill task for the government as there is a dearth of job opportunities in Odisha.

"I have no work now and worried as to how I will manage my family," said Madhu Das, a resident of MV 26 area in Malkangiri district who returned from Telangana after losing his job following the lockdown.

The State government is yet to make any announcement regarding the steps taken to create job opportunities for the returnees. Hence, it seems it will not be possible on part of the government to generate alternate employment opportunities anytime soon, said economic expert, Dilip Panda.

“We have to adopt a decentralised approach. At the panchayat level, we need to create employment opportunities for the returnees," said Food Security activist, Rajkishore Mishra.

While 3.5 lakh migrants have already returned to the State, the government is expecting return of 5 lakh more people in the coming days.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has already announced Rs 100-crore ‘urban wage employment initiative’ that aims to create employment opportunities for the livelihood-deprived urban poor.

Besides, Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy recently directed district collectors to take up more employment-intensive projects for the returnees under the MGNREGA and Odisha Livelihood Mission (OLM).

Moreover, in Budget 2020, the Centre allocated Rs 61,500 crore for MGNREGA scheme and later (after the Coronavirus outbreak) has provided an additional Rs 40,000 crore for the scheme.

“The government must provide every poor family Rs 7,500 for six months and instantly transfer Rs 10,000 into their bank accounts," said Odisha Congress chief, Niranjan Patnaik.

Works under MGNREGA have already started and soon work in several other departments like irrigation will begin and people will get employment opportunities, said Planning and Convergence Minister, Padmanabha Behera.

(Edited By: Bikram Keshari Jena)

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