As 5 Lakh Migrants Return to Jharkhand, State to Rely on 3 Schemes

A report states that unemployment rate in Jharkhand sits at 47.1 percent, which is double of the national average.

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Image of Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren used for representational purposes.
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Amidst the coronavirus lockdown, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren launched three new schemes for the state on 4 May, in association with MGNREGA. The schemes namely, ‘Birsa Harit GramYojana’, ‘Nilamber-Pitamber Jal Samridhi Yojana’, and ‘Veer Shahid Poto Ho Khel Vikas Yojna’ aim at increasing the employment rate of Jharkhand and at providing steady incomes and thus tackling the larger problem of outmigration.

A report by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) tells us that the unemployment rate in Jharkhand sits at 47.1 percent, which is double of the national average of 23.5 percent.

While a report by Economic Survey of India revealed that Jharkhand lost close to 5 million of its working-age population between 2001 and 2011 due to migration.

‘Lack of Job Opportunities’ Drive People Out of Jharkhand

I met labourers from Jharkhand working on projects in Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Punjab, and Maharashtra.

Vikram, a resident of Patratu, Ramgarh district, once delivered food to me on a cycle. He worked for Zomato, an online food delivery app. In a brief conversation with me, he said very clearly that he is hardly interested in working in a ‘foreign’ land. He said, “the lack of job opportunities back home has brought me down here. If promised a decent job with a regular income, I would never leave my fields and home.” This emotion is common to all the migrant labourers across the country.

Keeping all of it in mind, the focus of the government right now seems to be on the migrant labour force returning to the state. A list with names of five lakh such Jharkhand labourers has been made. Data collected by the number of registrations on the Jharkhand Corona Sahayata App, an initiative by the government for those coming back home. The state transport secretary, K Ravi Kumar, was quoted as saying that the state government will bear the transport expenses of the labourers.

More importantly the three schemes launched are unique to some extent and exploring them will give us an insight into what the newly elected government of JMM-Congress-RJD is trying to focus on.

1. Birsa Harit Gram Yojana

As specified by the Information and Public Relations Department, the main objective of this scheme is to provide 5 lakh families with 100 fruit-bearing trees and to also provide them the saplings and plants for the next five years.

The aim is to plant 5 crore trees throughout the state. Training units for the same shall be set up at both block and district levels. The scheme will also ensure an easy sale of produced goods. BHGY also plans to use 2 lakh acres of fallow land under afforestation scheme by planting trees on both sides of the roads on government as well as private land.

2. Nilamber-Pitamber Jal Samridhi Yojana

Falling under the Water and Sanitation Department, the project aims at collecting water inside the farm premises and to increase the Water Conservation capacity by 5 lakh crore litres. This new policy focuses on individual and family-based water conservation at farms and homes.

Jharkhand falls in the agro-climatic zone 7. Most of the land in Jharkhand is plateau region, therefore a huge amount of rainfall received by the state drains into other neighbouring states. Water Conservation would directly help the cause. Also, the main focus of the program would be on the Palamu Division, which is most prone to droughts and scanty rainfalls. The Union Ministry of Water Resources, reports that 55 blocks of 7 districts in Jharkhand are drought-hit.

Moreover, due to the draining of monsoon waters, the farmers could only plant a single kharif crop. Water conservation would help them increase the tenure of their farming and would also enable them to plant three to four crops round the year.

One of the things common to both these schemes is their promises for the Public Distribution System.

The Jharkhand government’s previous tenure registered a considerable number of starvation deaths due to a weak PDS. The BJP government introduced the obligation of Aadhaar linkage with the ration cards rather than diversifying the PDS. Due to this decision, a lot of people were declared invalid ration-card holders. In an affidavit submitted by the Jharkhand government to the Jharkhand High Court on 28 April, it was mentioned that 7.29 lakh people reapplied for a ration card, and out of these only 35.64 percent could receive the prescribed 10 kg grain limit.

3. Veer Shahid Poto Ho Khel Vikas Yojana

Along with BHGY, this scheme falls under the rural development department. The main objective of this project is to construct 5,000 stadiums in the state at the panchayat level (4,300 panchayats) and otherwise. It also looks forward to fulfilling the requirement of sports equipment for men and women and to establish training centres at block and district levels. The scheme will also provide a special arrangement of employment in the government sector under sports quota.

Both, the Birsa Harit and Poto Ho Khel Vikas Yojana have put special emphasis on creating jobs under MGNREGA.

While the BHGY aims at generating 25 crore man-days, the Poto Ho Khel Vikas Yojana plans on creating 1 crore man-days of work.

Budgetary Implication of These Schemes

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has set the agricultural credit target at Rs 15 lakh crore for the financial year 2020-2021. The Union Budget mentions that the NABARD would cover NBFC’s and Agricultural co-operatives which are active in agricultural lending. Such co-operatives are popular in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Bihar.

Henceforth, both the BHGY and the Nilamber-Pitamber Water Scheme shall be covered under them.

(Author Arghya Bhaskar is an independent journalist. This is a personal blog. Views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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