Several eminent persons have written to Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, for urgent and immediate steps to enable NREGA in order to combat the economic crisis being perpetuated in the country in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Signed by individuals such as Harsh Mander, Yogendra Yadav, Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Jean Dreze and others, the letter evokes the issues surrounding mass unemployment stemming from the economic crisis due to the national lockdown and requests the Government to enable National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in a bid to fulfil the tremendous demand of the poor whose livelihoods are in question. "Due to an unprecedented unemployment crisis which is likely to last for several months, there is a tremendous demand for NREGA work across the country. The Government should respond to this demand urgently as the lives and livelihoods of millions are in question. Given the legal obligation and the infrastructure already in place, using NREGA creatively will go a long way to help the poor in this time of need". The letter, by emphasizing the emergency of the situation at hand, further provides the following temporary recommendations which can be employed by the Ministry for implementing NREGA for the next three months: "1. Additional Budget allocation & Proactive implementation of NREGA and giving work to all.
While many returning migrants are from rural areas, there are significant returning migrants from small towns. Many such people have lost their livelihoods and are shaken. This can be fruitfully addressed to some extent by emulating the potential and the structures of NREGA towards an urban employment guarantee programme. Such a programme can be powerful in ecological restoration and moving towards a greener future in light of climate crisis too.