Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 2 (IANS) Kerala Monday became the first state in India to announce a new pension scheme for all NREGS workers in the state who have worked for 100 days in a year, a minister said.
The maximum age to be considered for pension would be 50, and monthly pension would be available once the worker attains the age of 60, state Minister for Rural Development K.C. Joseph told reporters here.
Workers above the age of 50 would not be considered for pension at this time but may be considered later.
"We have decided that a contribution of Rs.1,000 would be made by the state and an equal sum would be put in by the Centre. The workers' monthly contribution would be announced shortly after discussing with them," said Joseph.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) -- initially called NREGS -- began slowly in Kerala with just around 71,000 families taking part in the programme which earned them Rs.710 crore in 2010-11. This jumped to 3.5 lakh families in 2012-13 giving them Rs.1,415 crore.
The present daily wage given to a worker is Rs.164.
"Last year, we had given Rs.1,000 as bonus to women workers and this time we have decided to put that amount as the state's contribution into the pension fund. However, 3.4 lakh women workers will get a handloom saree worth Rs.400 as Onam gift," said Joseph.
Onam falls in the second week of September.
The minister said that to cut out the delay in handing out payment to the workers, the state government has entered into an arrangement with the State Bank of India for e-payment of wages to all the workers.
"With this, the delay of payment of more than three to four weeks can be reduced to the mandatory two week period," Joseph said.
He expressed hope that following the demand from Kerala to include animal husbandry and traditional industries into the NREGS network, a committee appointed to look into this has agreed to give flexibility to each state.
"Through this, production in these sectors can be improved. Besides, those who work will also get paid. The order to this effect is expected any time now," he added.