Q. What is the migration situation in your village? Why do you think people migrate?
Panchayat Secretary: Our village community has not migrated. A major reason for this is that employment options are available in the village, due to which the people here are able to earn livelihood from agriculture, carpentry, private employment, or self-employment.
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: Migrants from other places have started slowly returning to our Gram Panchayat*, indicating that labourers are re-emigrating. But their family members have not yet returned with them. A major reason for this is the lack of employment and money because of the lockdown which has affected them adversely.
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: No, such a record is not maintained at the Panchayat-level. The owner of the houses where the migrants live as renters have to verify the migrants with the Police Department. It would be difficult for me to tell as to how regularly the record is updated.
Q. Have any plans been made by the GP for the migrants belonging to disadvantaged or vulnerable sections?
Panchayat Secretary: Planning is not done in the Gram Panchayat with a focus on the migrants, but for providing employment to the local community of the village under the welfare Union and state welfare schemes. This includes getting people employed under MGNREGS and construction of houses, drinking water tanks, boundary walls, etc. Self-employment resources are also made available under the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM).
Q. What works are done in the village under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)? How are they planned?
Panchayat Secretary: Under MGNREGS, major works like public land improvement and construction of roads, drinking water tanks, and boundary walls are being done. After the priority of works is decided in the Gram Sabha, they are added to the list of works to be done in the next financial year.
Q. Are works being done in regards to climate change or environmental protection under MGNREGS?
Panchayat Secretary: Not much work has been done on this under MGNREGS yet, but work on tree plantation, construction of toilets, and solid liquid waste management has been done under the scheme.
This interview was conducted with a Panchayat Secretary in Himachal Pradesh in Hindi on 27 September 2022, and has been translated.
Image Source: PMAGY.gov.in
* Contrary to the popular belief, a rural area is not automatically an employment-deficit space. The GP here is a rural employment hub and a destination for migrants.