Mamata green signal for earning activities
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said additional economic activities would be allowed in Bengal from April 20, particularly in rural areas, within hours of the Union home ministry releasing guidelines to facilitate livelihood activities.
“We are permitting some additional activities.... Proper sanitisation facilities, use of masks and adherence to social distancing would be mandatory for the activities,” Mamata said at Nabanna in the afternoon.
At night, the Centre made public the list of hotspot districts, among which are four from Bengal. The Union home ministry’s relaxations will not apply to the hotspots, at least one of which has several jute mills.
In the afternoon, state government sources said Mamata had felt relieved with the home ministry guidelines, which she found “comprehensive” and conducive for the state economy to keep moving during the lockdown.
“The government is providing free rations for nearly seven crore people in the state up to September. But people need cash.... If these activities start, the rural people would get a chance to earn some money,” an official said.
The areas of the economy that will be allowed to operate in Bengal include:
⦾ Tea processing, which will be allowed with 25 per cent workforce. Plucking is already on.
⦾ Small projects relating to irrigation, road construction, public health engineering and civil construction, which will be allowed with local workers. Workers registered with the 100 days’ rural job scheme will be engaged in these projects.
“A mechanism will be worked out at the top level of the government to ensure the job seekers get work on alternative days in areas where the projects will be carried out,” Mamata said.
⦾ Harvesting of the rabi crop. Rural job scheme workers may be engaged.
⦾ Warehouses, which have a direct link with the harvesting of the rabi crop.
⦾ Industry in rural areas and at industrial clusters or estates. Those who want to run their units have, however, to apply for permission to the chief secretary, who will decide case by case.
“The chief secretary will consider which unit needs what kind of facilities to maintain the lockdown protocol,” Mamata said.
⦾ Brick kilns, which will be allowed to function with 15 per cent of their workforces.
⦾ Rural job scheme projects such as land development, water harvesting and nursery-related works, which will be started by the panchayat and rural development department.
⦾ Jute mills, which will be allowed to function with 15 per cent of their workforce but only if they maintain the Covid-19 protocol.
“There is no vehicle movement, and trains are not running. Those workers who are available locally may be engaged for these activities,” Mamata said.