NEW: 'Fewer People Have Migrated After COVID-19'
Q. What is the migration situation in your village? Why do you think people migrate?
Panchayat Secretary: Before COVID-19, many youths had migrated to Gujarat for employment, but as soon as the pandemic hit, all of them returned to the village. After COVID-19, fewer people have migrated as compared to earlier.
As far as I have seen, people do not have good employment opportunities in the village, due to which they migrate where they get better opportunities.
Q. What has been the extent of re-migration, ever since migrants returned to the Gram Panchayat (GP) due to the COVID-19 induced lockdown? Has there been a change in the migration pattern?
Panchayat Secretary: Migration has decreased. People had doubts about the stability of the status quo after the pandemic, due to which they found it better to find employment opportunities around the village. This is not the case with everyone though, some youths have migrated as labourers.
Q. Is there a Palayan Punji or migrants register maintained in the GP? Does the GP have a record of which households or individuals migrate out to work?
Panchayat Secretary: At the time of COVID-19, we kept the details of the people who had returned to the village from other places in a register. We had to report this to the Health Department as well. But at present we are not using any such register.
Q. Have any plans been made by the GP for the migrants belonging to disadvantaged or vulnerable sections?
Panchayat Secretary: We do not prepare any separate plan for the migrants from weaker sections. But whenever we prepare the Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP), the working class is kept in mind and efforts are made to increase employment opportunities.
Q. What works are done in the village under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)? How are they planned?
Panchayat Secretary: Works related to water convergence are completed as a priority. Works such as construction of drains, road, pastures, and check dams, etc. are done through MGNREGS.
We decide on the works on the basis of the village’s priorities. For example, if there is scarcity of water in the summer season in a village, then construction of a check dam is done.
Q. Are works being done in regards to climate change or environmental protection under MGNREGS?
Panchayat Secretary: Works such as tree plantations, developing pastures, and increasing sources of water resources are being done under MGNREGS.
This interview was conducted with a Panchayat Secretary in Rajasthan in Hindi on 9 October 2022, and has been translated.
Image Source: Press Trust of India