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A new Urban Employment Guarantee Act is needed to complement the existing rural jobs scheme during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, said a group of development activists and economists.


  • MGNREGA funding to be increased to at least ₹1 lakh crore for the next three months.
  • Relaxation of the 100 days of work per household limit
  • All individuals who wish to work under the scheme be given employment for as many days as needed, up to the full year.
  • Anyone wanting work should be given a job, with card registration made available on site.
  • Full minimum wages in cash, as well as dry rations, to be paid to workers within seven days rather than the current 15-day limit, so that the scheme can meet the immediate needs of people.
  • People prevented from working during the pandemic due to medical advisories including those aged over 50, disabled and sick, and pregnant women, should be paid full wages for the duration of the restrictions.
  • Rather than stopping MGNREGA work throughout districts declared to be in the red zone, decisions should instead be taken block-wise.

Urban Jobs Programme

  • Emulating the potential and the structures of NREGA towards an urban employment guarantee programme would address the significant number of migrants who were returning to small towns and had lost their livelihoods.
  • An urban jobs scheme which would also focus on ecological restoration in towns and cities by harnessing the potential of unemployed youth.
February 2024