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Job scheme changes lives of nomadic families

The lockdown has brought a change in the lives of four nomadic families, traditionally known as “Duramurgi” in Haveri district of north Karnataka, thanks to the Centre’s flagship rural job scheme.

These nomadic families, for generations, have been seeking alms by roaming around villages carrying idols of deities on their heads. But with wandering made impossible under lockdown, and villages barring their entry, perhaps for the first time, they shunned their traditional lifestyle and took up work under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) at Kaginele village in Byadagi taluk in Haveri district.

Four members Nagaraj, Ramanna, Gutteppa and Lakshmavva initially approached the Kaginele Panchayat office seeking monetary support for their daily life. Panchayat Development Officer Vishwanath Kattegowdar convinced them to take up manual job under MGNREGA. “The four members enrolled their names under the job scheme and we assigned them silt-removal work in the panchayat limits,” Mr Kattegowdar told The Hindu.

Four members, who are illiterate, worked for seven days and received their first income on the 9th day last month. The panchayat staff helped them to open their accounts in the local branch of the bank and daily wages of ₹285 credited in their accounts, the PDO said.

Mr. Nagaraj was thrilled at his earning, and he and others with him celebrated by distributing sweets to Panchayat officials. “We used to beg for years. No one had respect for us. We will continue to work under this scheme,” he said. There was lack of awareness about the scheme among his community members, he added.

Noticing this dramatic change, Rural Development Principal Secretary L.K. Ateeq tweeted: “This group of people, who traditionally beg for a livelihood, were encouraged to do MGNERGA work in Kaginele Panchayat Haveri dist. When they got their first wage they brought sweets to the Panchayat.”

About 30 members belonging to the “Duramurgi” are living in the village in hutments. The panchayat has provided jobs worth nearly ₹50,000 during the first few days of the lockdown, the PDO said.

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