MNREGA: Over Rs 110 crore pending in wage arrears in Gujarat

The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 05-08-2022 | 03:50 am

MNREGA: Over Rs 110 crore pending in wage arrears in Gujarat

Wage arrears of over Rs 110 crore is pending under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) scheme as of July 27 in Gujarat, according to answers to questions raised in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha recently, even as the MNREGA website shows no Fund Transfer Orders (FTOs) being processed for the state since July 4.The website, which has updates till August 4, shows the pending wage liability as Rs 115.67 crore with 17,971 fund transfer orders (FTOs) pending processing in Gujarat. According to MNREGA MIS report on the website, for financial year 2022-’23, Gujarat has disbursed Rs 576.01 crore in wages, Rs 409.18 crore in material costs and Rs 14.33 crore in administrative costs.In questions raised before the Rajya Sabha dated August 3, seeking details of arrears and by when they would be cleared, Minister Of State, Rural Development, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, replied, “Fund release to states/UTs is a continuous process and Central Government is committed to making funds available to States/UTs… The ministry seeks additional funds… from the Ministry of Finance as and when required for meeting the demand…” This has been a consistent reply by Jyoti to several questions in the Lok Sabha on pending dues.In another reply dated July 27 to an unstarred question in the Rajya Sabha by AAP Punjab MP Sandeep Kumar Pathak, Jyoti said, “The Government is committed to providing funds to the state government… release of funds to the state governments is a continuous process… depending on the availability of funds with the states, release of counterpart funds, submission of proposals along with requisite documentation…”To an unstarred question by CPI Rajya Sabha MP Binoy Viswam from Kerala, Jyoti stated, “The Ministry releases funds periodically in two tranches… of one or more instalments, keeping in view the ‘agreed-to’ labour budget, demand for works, opening balance, pace of utilisation of funds, pending liabilities, overall performance and subject to submission of relevant documents by the states. Also the state can make advance payments subject to recoupment after the release of funds by the Central Government.”Though the MNREGA work has not been officially suspended, registered workers in Mahisagar district of Central Gujarat, claimed that they were not given employment, and thereby wages, since July 14.A worker from the Santrampur block, working on a road project, said, “I went for work last around July 10, after which the local village employment volunteer has not contacted us… We have been told there is some indefinite strike… There has been no payment and we are waiting for work to resume.”Another worker from Dahod said that though the local construction project restarted after a few days of interruption, payment has not been received.Hemantkumar Shah, president of MNREGA Workers Association of Gujarat, said, “There has been negligible work under MNREGA since last month… Most affected are tribal districts, where the workers have not received any pay. One reason is the strike by contractual employees implementing the projects on the ground, while it is also visible that the Gujarat government does not want to implement MNREGA…”Claiming that the budget allocation in the state for MNREGA is so little, Shah added, “There is no money to even pay the registered workers if all have to be employed. The agitation by contractual workers will further affect the overall number of work days.” Contractual employees have been on strike demanding higher wages.In Gujarat, labour budget details on the MNREGA website shows that less than five per cent of the 14,215 gram panchayats in the state entered labour projection, a considerable dip from the 25 per cent gram panchayats that had entered labour projection in FY 2021-’22.In terms of work demand, cumulative persondays generated under the scheme in April, May, June and July were lower than the projected persondays, yet the state failed to make payments.However, according to Sonal Mishra, commissioner of rural development in Gujarat, “everything is in order and there is no cause of concern”. Wage is paid  from the grants released by the Centre.Denying that work has been affected due to strike by contractual employees, Mishra said, “The strike ended a while ago… even during the strike, no MNREGA work was affected in any district… as part of the outsourcing contract, the agency is responsible to provide manpower even if some are on strike.”Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxMinister Jyoti’s response to an unstarred question from West Bengal Rajya Sabha MP Jawhar Sircar reveals that Centre’s release of grant for the scheme to Gujarat in the first quarter of FY 2022-’23 is nearly seven per cent less than the grant that was released  same period of FY 2021-’22.An additional Rs 2.26 crore was released by the Centre for Gujarat after completion of the first quarter on June 30 this year, thus making the total of Centre’s grant so far to the state to 809.26 crore.For West Bengal, which has a humongous arrears in wages — to the tune of Rs 2,636.71 crore — the highest among all states and union territories, the Centre has stopped providing grants, revealed Jyoti’s reply to MP Sircar dated August 3, citing “non-compliance of directives of the central government”.(With inputs from Aditi Raja in Vadodara)

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Kutch emerges epicentre of Gujarat’s Lumpy Skin disease outbreak, records more than half the toll
The Indian Express | 1 hour ago | 12-08-2022 | 05:50 am
The Indian Express
1 hour ago | 12-08-2022 | 05:50 am

In early July, Altaf Bafan (26), a cattle-herder of Bhujpur village in Kutch, used to take around 450 cows owned by various residents of Bhujpur out for grazing for a fee. Now, his herd has shrunk after at least 100 cows died of Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD). Two of them died on Hadakudi pasture, where he used to take the cattle for grazing. The pasture has now turned into a cattle graveyard.“It has turned into a ghostly place with so many cows buried there,” says Bafan who gets Rs 150 per cattle head per month from their owners. “It is so painful to watch the cows suffer this way. It is the houseflies that killed most of these cows,” he adds.Trenches and bloating cattle carcasses on the pastoral land adjoining the Mundra-Mandvi coastal highway, suggest high casualty numbers. Dogs feed on the carcasses, while black drongos and cattle egrets feast on flies swarming the remains.“Heavy rain prevented vehicles from ferrying the carcasses to the land… Therefore, those providing carcass disposal services as well as cattle owners started dumping them on the roadside. We had to dig trenches to bury the carcasses,” says Bhimji Nanjar, husband of Bhujpur sarpanch Laxmi.The viral disease that originated in Africa has been sweeping Gujarat for three months since the first case was reported on April 23 in Kaiyari village in Abdasa taluka of Kutch district, where many depend on cattle-herding for their livelihood.The border district, with livestock population of around 23.79 lakh, has been the worst affected district, accounting for 38,891 cases or 52 per cent of the total reported cases in the state as of August 10. It also accounts for 1,835 deaths, more than half of the state, which has reported 2,782 deaths till Wednesday.In Gujarat, the infection has spread in 23 districts and the state government had issued orders on July 28, declaring 14 districts as “controlled districts”  prohibiting transportation of cattle and conducting cattle fair.The fear that bloating carcasses would spread disease, led to dramatic scenes in Gandhidham on July 27 as the LSD spread to eastern part of the Kutch after ravaging Mundra, Mandvi, Lakhpat, Nakhtrana, Bhuj and other talukas in West Kutch, when residents of Sathvara Colony in Sector 5 forced a tractor loaded with cow carcasses to return to the headquarters of Gandhidham municipality.“They were dumping carcasses in bushes behind the ground where the Saturday weekly market is held. Dogs would drag parts of carcasses to streets in our locality. We had no other option but to protest,” says Raju Sathvara, who runs a cold drinks outlet on Ambedkar Road.Deendayal Port Authority, which runs the largest port at Kandla, allowed the municipality to bury carcasses in an open plot near the sewage treatment plant. Four tractors of the municipality loaded with carcasses, have been making trips to this ground from the town as well as Kamdhenu Gaushala on the ourtskirts of Adipur.“Around 600 cattle deaths were reported in the town due to LSD till now though the number of daily casualty has gone down now,” Darshansinh Chavda, chief officer of the municipality says, adding, “The actual number of carcasses being disposed of in our facility could be high as we are allowing nearby village panchayats also to use it.”In Moti Bhujpur village of Mundra taluka, a six-month-old Kankrej female calf tries to unsuccessfully ward off houseflies from the ulcers on its feet at an enclosure belonging to Viruba Jadeja in Darbar Faliya. The calf has been battling for its life for the past two weeks after its mother and another of Viruba’s cows died of LSD.“I had gone to my parent’s home, leaving my two cows with a local cattle-herder for grazing. When I returned after two days, both of them had been taken away by sansthawala, an NGO, for treatment after they developed LSD… both died,” says Viruba, 65, adding, “How will I raise this calf now?”Viruba has lost her husband and her son Jalubha is a casual labourer. Her neighbour Babubha Jadeja, 55, is also making desperate attempts to save his cow , Kajal, from the viral disease.In the neighbourhood, Pratipalsinh Vaghela (17) is perspiring profusely as he tries to push bags filled with chaff against his cow who suffers seizures.“This cow used to give us six litres of milk daily but it contracted LSD a month ago and has been ill since. Her one-month-old calf succumbed a few days ago. She collapsed last night,” says the Class 12 student whose father is a crane operator.In a street in the same locality, Vinod Nanjar, a casual labourer, strokes his cow that has lumps and sores all over. “I lost two cows to LSD and this is the only one surviving. But there are too many houseflies at our home, so we are keeping this one on the street for some respite,” he says.Sitting inside a paan shop at the entrance of the village, Mahobatsinh Jadeja looks listless. He lost six of his eight cows in five days, three of which were lactating.“ I am ruined,” says the father of four, who earned Rs 10,000 a month by selling milk.Madhubha Jadeja, 62, a casual labourer, says the last month of LSD has brought back memories of the “brutal second wave of Covid-19”.“My cow and her one month-old calf contracted LSD… The calf died and the mother stopped giving milk. The veterinarian told me, just like Covid-19, there is no sure shot treatment for LSD,” he says.Villagers say LSD, which is spread by blood-sucking vectors such as flies, mosquitos and ticks, hit the village like a storm. “Cases first appeared in Bhujpur Panglapol, then among cattle in the village and evenutally among the livestock on farms,” says Naran Gilva, a Bhujpur resident who works for Madhav Gauseva Samiti, which works for cattle welfare and ran an  isolation centre for infected cows from July 21 to August 3.Panglapol is a charitable organisation that takes care of 4,700 abandoned and unproductive cattle. “The animals we had were unproductive and weak and therefore susceptible to disease. Around 600 of our cattle were infected by LSD and despite our best efforts, around 300 died. Now, the daily casualty has come down to five from  20,” says a trustee of the Panglapol, requesting anonymity.Haresh Patel, livestock inspector at First Aid Veterinary Centre run by the Kutch district panchayat in Bhujpur, says the infections peaked between July 10 and 25 and that the worst is over. “There has been no fresh infections for a week now. However, infected cattle are still battling the infection,” he says.On record, the village reported 150 LSD cases. “But not every cattle owner may be reporting the infection among their livestock to us and therefore, the actual number of cases and fatalities may be higher,” says the inspector.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxKutch district has a total livestock population of 23.79 lakh of which 38,957 were infected till Wednesday across 626 villages in 10 talukas. Vaccination has covered 3,97,193 cattle so far, according to government figures.Hardik Joshi, a veterinarian with Kamdhenu Gaushala, has been performing various surgeries, including amputation of infected legs, on cows and bulls in an attempt to save their lives after contracting LSD.“Cattle can live on three legs. So, as last resort, we are performing amputation if the ulcers and infections don’t heal despite antibiotics,” says Joshi.Haresh Thakkar, deputy director of animal husbandry in Kutch, says the morbidity and mortality among stray cattle in urban areas are high. “This is primarily because,  these animals are already in immune-compromised stage due to eating plastic. As they are weak, they don’t respond to treatment as other normal cattle,” says Thakkar, insisting government is not underreporting cases.“We have directed panchayats to report the cases through nodal officers that we have appointed in every taluka. But it is possible that some cattle-owners may prefer to treat their cattle on their own and not report the cases to the government,” he adds.

Kutch emerges epicentre of Gujarat’s Lumpy Skin disease outbreak, records more than half the toll
Pasture turns graveyard as Lumpy Skin Disease ravages villages in Kutch; hundreds of cattle dead
The Indian Express | 3 hours ago | 12-08-2022 | 03:50 am
The Indian Express
3 hours ago | 12-08-2022 | 03:50 am

In early July, Altaf Bafan (26), a cattle-herder of Bhujpur village in Kutch, used to take around 450 cows owned by various residents of Bhujpur out for grazing for a fee. Now, his herd has shrunk after at least 100 cows died of Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD). Two of them died on Hadakudi pasture, where he used to take the cattle for grazing. The pasture has now turned into a cattle graveyard.“It has turned into a ghostly place with so many cows buried there,” says Bafan who gets Rs 150 per cattle head per month from their owners. “It is so painful to watch the cows suffer this way. It is the houseflies that killed most of these cows,” he adds.Trenches and bloating cattle carcasses on the pastoral land adjoining the Mundra-Mandvi coastal highway, suggest high casualty numbers. Dogs feed on the carcasses, while black drongos and cattle egrets feast on flies swarming the remains.“Heavy rain prevented vehicles from ferrying the carcasses to the land… Therefore, those providing carcass disposal services as well as cattle owners started dumping them on the roadside. We had to dig trenches to bury the carcasses,” says Bhimji Nanjar, husband of Bhujpur sarpanch Laxmi.The viral disease that originated in Africa has been sweeping Gujarat for three months since the first case was reported on April 23 in Kaiyari village in Abdasa taluka of Kutch district, where many depend on cattle-herding for their livelihood.The border district, with livestock population of around 23.79 lakh, has been the worst affected district, accounting for 38,891 cases or 52 per cent of the total reported cases in the state as of August 10. It also accounts for 1,835 deaths, more than half of the state, which has reported 2,782 deaths till Wednesday.In Gujarat, the infection has spread in 23 districts and the state government had issued orders on July 28, declaring 14 districts as “controlled districts”  prohibiting transportation of cattle and conducting cattle fair.The fear that bloating carcasses would spread disease, led to dramatic scenes in Gandhidham on July 27 as the LSD spread to eastern part of the Kutch after ravaging Mundra, Mandvi, Lakhpat, Nakhtrana, Bhuj and other talukas in West Kutch, when residents of Sathvara Colony in Sector 5 forced a tractor loaded with cow carcasses to return to the headquarters of Gandhidham municipality.“They were dumping carcasses in bushes behind the ground where the Saturday weekly market is held. Dogs would drag parts of carcasses to streets in our locality. We had no other option but to protest,” says Raju Sathvara, who runs a cold drinks outlet on Ambedkar Road.Deendayal Port Authority, which runs the largest port at Kandla, allowed the municipality to bury carcasses in an open plot near the sewage treatment plant. Four tractors of the municipality loaded with carcasses, have been making trips to this ground from the town as well as Kamdhenu Gaushala on the ourtskirts of Adipur.“Around 600 cattle deaths were reported in the town due to LSD till now though the number of daily casualty has gone down now,” Darshansinh Chavda, chief officer of the municipality says, adding, “The actual number of carcasses being disposed of in our facility could be high as we are allowing nearby village panchayats also to use it.”In Moti Bhujpur village of Mundra taluka, a six-month-old Kankrej female calf tries to unsuccessfully ward off houseflies from the ulcers on its feet at an enclosure belonging to Viruba Jadeja in Darbar Faliya. The calf has been battling for its life for the past two weeks after its mother and another of Viruba’s cows died of LSD.“I had gone to my parent’s home, leaving my two cows with a local cattle-herder for grazing. When I returned after two days, both of them had been taken away by sansthawala, an NGO, for treatment after they developed LSD… both died,” says Viruba, 65, adding, “How will I raise this calf now?”Viruba has lost her husband and her son Jalubha is a casual labourer. Her neighbour Babubha Jadeja, 55, is also making desperate attempts to save his cow , Kajal, from the viral disease.In the neighbourhood, Pratipalsinh Vaghela (17) is perspiring profusely as he tries to push bags filled with chaff against his cow who suffers seizures.“This cow used to give us six litres of milk daily but it contracted LSD a month ago and has been ill since. Her one-month-old calf succumbed a few days ago. She collapsed last night,” says the Class 12 student whose father is a crane operator.In a street in the same locality, Vinod Nanjar, a casual labourer, strokes his cow that has lumps and sores all over. “I lost two cows to LSD and this is the only one surviving. But there are too many houseflies at our home, so we are keeping this one on the street for some respite,” he says.Sitting inside a paan shop at the entrance of the village, Mahobatsinh Jadeja looks listless. He lost six of his eight cows in five days, three of which were lactating.“ I am ruined,” says the father of four, who earned Rs 10,000 a month by selling milk.Madhubha Jadeja, 62, a casual labourer, says the last month of LSD has brought back memories of the “brutal second wave of Covid-19”.“My cow and her one month-old calf contracted LSD… The calf died and the mother stopped giving milk. The veterinarian told me, just like Covid-19, there is no sure shot treatment for LSD,” he says.Villagers say LSD, which is spread by blood-sucking vectors such as flies, mosquitos and ticks, hit the village like a storm. “Cases first appeared in Bhujpur Panglapol, then among cattle in the village and evenutally among the livestock on farms,” says Naran Gilva, a Bhujpur resident who works for Madhav Gauseva Samiti, which works for cattle welfare and ran an  isolation centre for infected cows from July 21 to August 3.Panglapol is a charitable organisation that takes care of 4,700 abandoned and unproductive cattle. “The animals we had were unproductive and weak and therefore susceptible to disease. Around 600 of our cattle were infected by LSD and despite our best efforts, around 300 died. Now, the daily casualty has come down to five from  20,” says a trustee of the Panglapol, requesting anonymity.Haresh Patel, livestock inspector at First Aid Veterinary Centre run by the Kutch district panchayat in Bhujpur, says the infections peaked between July 10 and 25 and that the worst is over. “There has been no fresh infections for a week now. However, infected cattle are still battling the infection,” he says.On record, the village reported 150 LSD cases. “But not every cattle owner may be reporting the infection among their livestock to us and therefore, the actual number of cases and fatalities may be higher,” says the inspector.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxKutch district has a total livestock population of 23.79 lakh of which 38,957 were infected till Wednesday across 626 villages in 10 talukas. Vaccination has covered 3,97,193 cattle so far, according to government figures.Hardik Joshi, a veterinarian with Kamdhenu Gaushala, has been performing various surgeries, including amputation of infected legs, on cows and bulls in an attempt to save their lives after contracting LSD.“Cattle can live on three legs. So, as last resort, we are performing amputation if the ulcers and infections don’t heal despite antibiotics,” says Joshi.Haresh Thakkar, deputy director of animal husbandry in Kutch, says the morbidity and mortality among stray cattle in urban areas are high. “This is primarily because,  these animals are already in immune-compromised stage due to eating plastic. As they are weak, they don’t respond to treatment as other normal cattle,” says Thakkar, insisting government is not underreporting cases.“We have directed panchayats to report the cases through nodal officers that we have appointed in every taluka. But it is possible that some cattle-owners may prefer to treat their cattle on their own and not report the cases to the government,” he adds.

Pasture turns graveyard as Lumpy Skin Disease ravages villages in Kutch; hundreds of cattle dead
State received 80 pc rainfall, has enough water until Aug ’23: Govt
The Indian Express | 6 hours ago | 12-08-2022 | 12:50 am
The Indian Express
6 hours ago | 12-08-2022 | 12:50 am

As Gujarat received 80 per cent of its average rainfall for this season since July this year, the state now has 21 per cent more water than in August 2021 —enough to last until August 2023 for drinking and irrigation purposes, a release from the state government said on Wednesday.In a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel in Gandhinagar, the water department stated that the 207 reservoirs in the state, including the Sardar Sarovar project in Narmada, had a total of 69 per cent water until August 10 — the highest in 13 years.The meeting was held in the presence of the Water Supply and Irrigation Minister Rushikesh Patel, in which the water resources department presented a detailed description of the situation of the reservoirs till August 10.The 207 reservoirs of the state have total storage of 25,266 Million Cubic Metres (MCM) of water of which, 17,687 MCM has already been received, this year until Thursday. According to the status report of the Water Resources and Water Supply Department of the state Thursday, the state had a total storage of 70 per ent. Sardar Sarovar dam is 80 per cent full with storage of 7,598 MCM out of the total designed capacity of 9,460 MCM.On August 11, 2021, Sardar Sarovar only had 4,408 MCM water due to deficit rainfall in the catchment areas of the basin in Madhya Pradesh.This year, however, the inflow into the dam from its mother dams Indirasagar and Omkareshwar projects in MP has been heavy. On Thursday, too, the dam had an inflow of 1.1 lakh cusecs, taking the level to 132.7 metres, which is just six metres short of the Full Reservoir Level.The dam is also releasing water by operating the Canal Head Power House and the Riverbed Powerhouse at full capacity — which results in a release of over 50000 cusec water in total after one full cycle.Zone-wise, South Gujarat has the highest filling of reservoirs at 74.52 per cent Thursday with 6,427 MCM of storage, and eight dams completely filled. In Kutch, which received heavy rainfall on July, 12 of the 20 dams are completely filled. Kutch region has a total of 70 per cent water storage Thursday at 232.63 MCM.Until Thursday, Saurashtra recorded water storage of 63.27 per cent and 19 of the 141 dams completely filled while Central and North Gujarat have recorded a total filling of 50.51 per cent and 31.77 per cent, respectively. While Central Gujarat has two dams completely filled and total storage of 1177.33 MCM, none of the 15 dam schemes in North Gujarat is completely filled.At the meeting Wednesday evening, CM Patel instructed to carry out irrigation works in areas that have received a good monsoon, the government release said. The Chief Minister has emphasised saving and storing the excess water by creating check dams.“It was stated in the meeting that out of the 73 water reservoirs of the state from which water is taken for drinking, 62 water reservoirs have enough water to last till August 2023. The Chief Minister also reviewed the rainfall situation in the state during this meeting. Regarding the review of the rainfall situation, it has been said that an average of 80 per cent of the rain has been received in the state till August 10. Not only that, more than 125 mm of rain has been received by all the talukas of the 33 districts of the state,” the government release stated.

State received 80 pc rainfall, has enough water until Aug ’23: Govt
Special textbooks to bridge learning gap developed during Covid-19 pandemic
The Indian Express | 6 hours ago | 12-08-2022 | 12:50 am
The Indian Express
6 hours ago | 12-08-2022 | 12:50 am

To bridge the learning gap among government schoolchildren developed amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Gujarat education department has prepared special textbooks ‘Vidya Pravesh’ for students from classes 2 to 10 that will be launched in over 32,000 government schools soon.The special textbooks named as ‘Vidya Pravesh’ are an “improved” version of the bridge course books launched in the academic year 2021-’22. According to officials, the textbooks that have been printed and are in final stages of distribution, are expected to be launched after Janmashtami holidays.“The bridge course books have been modified with several additions based on the learning outcomes,” Ratankanvar H Gadhavicharan, Samagra Shiksha State project director, told The Indian Express.Last year, the state education department introduced brief content booklets to be used for the month-long bridge course meant to revise the curriculum of previous classes.In 2021, students from Class 1 to 12 were promoted without any exams and the state government, fearing learning gaps, prepared the bridge course to make students revise their previous class lessons.Unlike the bridge course booklets, the ‘Vidya Pravesh’ textbooks prepared in Gujarati this year are meant to be used throughout the year, officials stated.“The bridge course was prepared as a basic readiness programme but these textbooks are a result of detailed analysis of learning gaps for each class. The content was prepared by specialised subject teachers,” said Gadhavicharan who is also director Gujarat State School Textbook Board (GSSTB).According to sources, content from G-Shala (Gujarat — Students Holistic Adaptive Learning App) has also been incorporated in these textbooks. It is an e-content app launched during the pandemic, specially designed for students and teachers from Class 1 to 12 on Learning Management System (LMS).The content for G-Shala was prepared by expert teachers who have recorded special lessons at education department’s studios that also provides 3D enhanced e-content. Students can do online self-learning, while teachers can plan for teaching according to their curriculum.

Special textbooks to bridge learning gap developed during Covid-19 pandemic