New Delhi: The Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University, Bangalore, has proposed an urban employment guarantee scheme along the lines of MNREGA. The idea is to strengthen small and medium sized towns by providing guaranteed employment.
The researchers argue that centrally funded programmes like the Smart Cities Mission and Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) have focussed disproportionately on development of bigger towns and cities.
“It is important to re-focus our attention to improving the livelihoods and ecology of urban areas beyond India’s major cities,” the report notes.
The proposal looks to cover over 4,000 towns in the country with a population of less than 10 lakh and provide benefit to between three and five crore people. It could cost between 1.7% and 2.7% of GDP, according to the estimates put out by the team of researchers.
Currently, India is going through one of its worst job crises. The NSSO’s leaked report on unemployment pointed out that unemployment is at a 45 year high, Business Standard reported in February. The problem is particularly severe in urban areas, with 18% of the males and 27% of females unemployed.
The new proposal to address the problem envisages a two-pronged approach. Workers who have been educated beyond class 12 apprenticeship in monitoring, surveying, and other similar tasks in public offices, schools, hospitals, at Rs 13,000 per month for a continuous period of 5 months.
Those who have been educated upto class 12, would be eligible for 100 days of guaranteed employment a year at Rs 500 per day.
The plan recommends that the scheme be administered by the urban local body with the active involvement of ward committees. Wage payments, the proposal argues, should be decentralised and should be carried out through states and urban local bodies, unlike MNREGA.