Govt weighs employment guarantee scheme for urban areas as Covid shrinks jobs

The central government is considering an extension of its flagship rural jobs guarantee scheme to urban centres as well as the coronavirus pandemic leaves thousands of urban workers jobless.

Once approved, the urban jobs scheme, with an estimated initial cost of Rs35,000 crore, may be rolled out in smaller cities, reports quoting Sanjay Kumar, joint secretary in the ministry of housing and urban affairs, said.
While the government has been considering an employment guarantee scheme for urban areas since last year, Kumar said, the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns made it necessary to think in such terms.
Under the rural jobs schemes workers can earn a guaranteed minimum daily wage of Rs202 for a minimum 100 days a year. The Modi government has already spent more than Rs1,00,000 crore on a rural jobs programme this year. 
It is still not known how much an urban worker will get under the job guarantee scheme. A job guarantee scheme that covers both the rural and urban areas could help lessen the impact of the coronavirus fallout, which forces an over 23 per cent contraction of the economy - the deepest so far since independence. 
Under the rural jobs scheme workers gets employed in local public-works projects such as road-building, well-digging and reforestation. The scheme now covers more than 270 million people and is also being used to provide employment to migrant workers returning from cities amid the lockdown.
More than 121 million people lost jobs in April, pushing the unemployment rate to a record 23 per cent, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy. But the jobless rate has since fallen as the economy reopened.
It is felt that a national level scheme is necessary to prevent urban workers from falling into poverty under the impact of Covid-19.
The programme would also help in reviving lost demand and give a boost to the economy.