Kerala: Urban Job Scheme AUGES Generated 41 Lakh Workdays in 2022-23
The Ayyankali Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme (AUEGS) is being referred to as a model to emulate across the country. Aimed at providing employment guarantee for a minimum of 100 days and conceived in the 11th five-year plan during the Left Democratic Front (LDF) regime during 2006-11, the scheme has around 2.79 lakh enrolled beneficiaries.
Launched in 2010, AUGES generated 41.11 lakh work days in the 2022-23, the highest so far, with Rs 113.93 crore spent on the scheme. The state government bears the entire project cost.
On July 8, the government sanctioned Rs 24.4 crore for the second quarter of the current financial year to urban local bodies which have spent 60% of the initial allocation. The government had allocated Rs 150 crore for the scheme in the budget.
The disbursal will be carried out through the Budget Allocation and Monitoring System (BAMS). The Local Self Government Department (LSGD) has insisted on the urban local bodies to address the waste management issues through the scheme.
PROVIDING JOBS TO URBAN POPULATION
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) was launched in 2005, pushed by the Left parties in the common minimum programme (CMP) during the first United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. Within a couple of years, the 11th Plan (2007-12) of the Kerala government conceived the urban employment guarantee scheme, named after the social reformer Ayyankali.
Kerala, with little or no distinction between rural and urban areas together with higher urbanisation than recorded, demanded an urban employment scheme to cater to the urban population. The population, as per the 2011 Census in rural areas (1,74,55,506) is only slightly higher than in urban areas (1,59,32,171).
“AUEGS aims at enhancing the livelihood security of people in urban areas by guaranteeing 100 days of wage-employment in a year to an urban household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. This also aims to provide a strong, right-based social safety net for the people in the urban areas of Kerala by giving a fall-back employment source, when other employment alternatives are scarce or inadequate", the government said.
The scheme assures 100-days work to adult members of every household in the urban areas at wages on par with MGNREGA. The ward sabhas in the local bodies decide on the works to be carried out under the scheme. Recently, the government has included construction of houses under the LIFE mission in the scheme.
"The AUGES is another model established by Kerala. This scheme plays an important role in urban lives. Kerala is the first state to implement such a programme in the country", M B Rajesh, the minister for Local Selg Governments (LSG,) noted.
The daily wage is expected to be increased to Rs 333 from Rs 311 with retrospective effect from April 1,2023. From just three lakh work days with Rs 7.48 crore spent during 2015-16 from the budget allocation of Rs 15 crore, the number of workdays has shot up to 41.11 lakh in 2022-23.
Besides providing jobs, with at least 50% assured for women, AUGES ensures social welfare measures to the enrolled adults. Free medical treatment is provided to if a worker is injured or falls ill during work, and half of the wage is provided in the event of hospitalisation.
DISBURSAL TO URBAN LOCAL BODIES
The 2023-24 budget allocated Rs 150 crore for the AUGES. On July 8, Rajesh announced that urban local bodies would be allocated Rs 24.4 crore. All the six municipal corporations and 56 out of the 87 municipalities are eligible to receive the funds.
The urban local bodies have spent Rs 23 crore of the Rs 29.85 crore allocated in the beginning of the financial year. The urban local bodies have to identify funds for works carried out over and above the budget allocation. The post COVID-19 scenario, which saw an increase in urban unemployment, is a key factor that is driving the demand for AUGES.
"Waste management, Subhiksha Kerala, pre-monsoon sanitation, health vigilance, water conservation, afforestation, animal welfare and PMAY-LIFE house construction works would be given priority. Dairy farmers have been included as beneficiaries since 2019-29. More emphasis would be given on waste management", Rajesh noted.
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