The Odisha Government has decided to implement intensively the Urban Wage Employment Initiative (UWEI) in all the 114 urban local bodies (ULBs) of the State.
A total 342 dedicated professionals and domain experts have been positioned in the ULBs. A two-day orientation programme was organised on April 19 for the professionals to orient them on the scheme, guidelines and implementation strategy. Principal Secretary G Mathi Vathanan , DMA Sangramjit Naik and senior officers of the Department interacted with the team on key deliverables and timelines for the programme.
While others are only talking about putting money in the hands of people, Chief Minister Naveen Pattnaik earlier announced the UWEI scheme to help the informal work force in the State ’s 114 urban local bodies. The initiative envisages immediate execution of all labour intensive projects in the ULBs in the State, while Housing and Urban Development Department is the Nodal Authority to supervise the initiative.
One unique feature of the UWEI is that women self-help groups (SHG) will be partners in execution of all works. The Centre, too, has taken note of the scheme and has recommended States to try and adapt it to their needs, said a senior officer in H and UD Department. According to figures available with the State, the ULBs of Odisha have 16 lakh families out of which 4.5 lakh families or around 20 lakh people work in the informal sector for whom the scheme has been targeted.
The UWEI is a component under UNNATI, a programme included in the State Budget to fill critical gaps in urban infrastructure, which is now being fast tracked.
The scheme resembles the MGNREGA scheme in rural areas. The MNREGA is a Central programme to engage the rural poor in labour intensive works, whereas under the UWEI the State from its own budget provides jobs to the urban poor through labour oriented works, said an officer.
The initiative is considered unique in that it attempts to achieve convergence of a number of critical areas of urban development—- employment to workers from the unorganised sector, empowerment of SHGs especially marginalised women’s groups, protection of environment, creation of community assets and building partnership with community based institutions to achieve community centric and community led development.