The centre on Monday gave details on the steps taken to ease the financial stress caused by the coronavirus lockdown in rural areas. It said around two crore jobs have been provided under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, and most of the wholesale farmers' markets have opened for trade.
The decisions taken by the centre are part of its two-pronged strategy to mitigate the suffering triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. The government is shoring up health infrastructure across the country to tackle the virus, while gradually opening up the economy.
"The work on large community assets like water conservation and irrigation under MGNREGA has started, and almost 2 crore labourers have got jobs," Joint Secretary (MHA) Punya Salila Srivastava informed reporters.
Around 80 per cent of the wheat crop has been harvested in the country till April 26, and a majority of "mandis" (wholesale farmers' market) are also operating.
"The Kisan Rath app is connecting farmers with traders and is making the process of acquirement of produce of farmers easier," she said, adding as many as 80,000 farmers and 70,000 traders have registered on the mobile application.
The government is ensuring that economic activities in rural areas get started, the officer said, adding in many villages brick kiln units have resumed operation. "In rural areas, labourers are getting jobs as the work related to road construction has also picked up," she added.
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs survey, 60 per cent of the food processing units are functional. In Special Economic Zones, as many 2,825 such units and 350 export-oriented units have resumed manufacturing.
The sudden lockdown last month created a humanitarian crisis as daily-wage workers lost their jobs.
Many stranded across the country attempted to walk their way to their hometowns in the absence of public transport, as they didn't have the means to survive in relatively expensive cities.
The centre last week allowed some economic activities in non-hotspot rural areas. It also allowed standalone shops in the urban areas that have not been declared containment zones.