Maharashtra government is mulling amending the Maharashtra Employment Guarantee Act to bring under its ambit farm-hands and labourers involved in the agricultural sector.
State finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said the idea is to bring individuals other than farmers, like those who do the work of levelling farm lands and building farm roads under the ambit of the Employment Guarantee Scheme Act so that they get employment under it.
"Under the MGNREGA scheme, there is a limitation of allowing farm work with help of labourers and machines. Hence, in the state cabinet held yesterday, we discussed about amending the state's EGS.
"If we are able to amend the Act, employment can be provided to farmers as well as farm workers who do not have farm land," Mungantiwar, who is also the State cabinet spokesperson, said.
Under the EGS, a labourer can level agriculture land, create farm ponds, make farm roads between two adjacent farms and other works related to agriculture, he said. It would not be required to issue an Ordinance to amend the EGS. Only rules will need to be changed and issue a notification, he added.
On the drought condition and acute drinking water shortage in many parts of the state, the minister said in the coming days, drinking water, livestock fodder, employment for farm-workers are the major issues that the government has to resolve.
"Drinking water will be provided through tankers and railway wagons, if necessary," he said.
Over 150 out of 358 tehsils across the state have recorded crop below 50 per cent of the average production. Except eastern Vidarbha and some parts of western Maharashtra, rest of the state is currently facing drinking water scarcity. He said the government has decided to cultivate fodder across 40,000 acres land, especially in Marathwada, the worst affected region by drought.
State government has also taken a decision to permit 50 per cent subsidy on machines worth Rs 18,000 that can cultivate cattle fodder within three days, he said.
Mungantiwar also expressed fears of below average rainfall and said the government will release additional funds to meet the need of water if required.