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Azim Premji University suggests setting up of National Urban Employment Guarantee Programme to strengthen Small and Medium towns in India

Bengaluru, Mar 29 (UNI) Azim Premji University, a Deemed University, has called for creation of a National Urban Employment Guarantee Programme to strengthen small and medium seized towns in India.
In a draft policy paper titled 'Strengthening Towns through Sustainable Employment' released here on Friday, the members of the Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University, Bangalore have suggested that the programme suggested should address key problems including underemployment and low wages in informal workforce, migration to large cities from small towns, poor quality of urban infrastructure and public services, ecological degradation, shortage of human and financial capacities of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), unemployment and lack of skills among educated youth. However, the programme should not be at the cost of MGNREGA but rather the two would go hand-in-hand, according to a release here.
The proposed programme should cover towns with population less than One million. There are about 4000 such towns with 126 million people of working age. Workers with varying levels of formal education upto class 12 would be eligible for 100 days of guaranteed employment a year at Rs 500 per day. Workers who have acquired formal education beyond class 12 would be provided apprenticeship in monitoring, surveying, and other similar tasks in public offices, schools, hospitals etc. at Rs 13,000 per month for a contiguous period of 5 months. While the first category of work is used to address the question of low-wage informal work and underemployment, the second category is designed to provide skill-building and internship for the educated youth. A new set of “green jobs” have also been proposed including creation, rejuvenation, and maintenance of urban commons such as lakes, parks, waste land, and disaster management. Further, a set of jobs that will cater to the “care deficit” in towns by providing child-care and care for the elderly and the disabled to the urban working class have been included.
The draft suggested that the features of MGNREGA including demand-driven, payment of unemployment allowance if work is not provided within 15 days of demanding, payment of a delay compensation if wages are not paid within 15 days. In the last few years though, MGNREGA has been severely stifled due to inadequate funds and excessive centralisation of wage payments. To address this, it was proposed that the labour costs be split between the Central government and the State governments and the non-labour costs be split between the Centre, States and the ULBs, based on the size of the towns.
The total estimated programme budget would range from 1.7 to 2.7 per cent of GDP depending on whether employment is guaranteed to one adult from every household or every adult resident.
UNI MSP RS SKB1924
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