Employment programmes not stopping Sudurpaschim folks from going back to IndiaOver 10,000 Nepalis have already crossed the border at Gauriphanta to reach India since mid-August.
The Sudurpaschim provincial government on September 1 had issued a notice directing people not to go to India in search of jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic. But many youths from the province continue to migrate to India from the western border point on a daily basis.
According to the Police Inspector at Gauriphanta border point in Kailali Rajendra Kunwar, 10,458 Nepalis have already crossed the border in Gauriphanta to reach India since mid-August.
“Around 500 to 1,000 individuals arrive at the border to go to India these days,” said Kunwar.
Many Nepalis from the province have for years been working in the apple orchards of various Indian states.
Hem Awasthi, spokesperson at the Ministry of Agriculture, said, “The ministry has launched agriculture-based programmes to provide jobs to unemployed citizens. The programme aims to stop youths from migrating to India in search of jobs.”
According to him, the ministry has allocated Rs 150 million for the programme.
“Under the programmes, more than 9,000 individuals can grow and sell agricultural produce and start their own businesses,” said Awasthi. “The ministry will provide farmers with Rs 100,000 to Rs 500,000 in subsidy. To get the subsidy, farmers have to submit their proposal to the District Agriculture Knowledge Centre via the agriculture section of their respective local units. The ministry also facilitates farmers while taking grants from banks.”
Farmers can apply for the agricultural programme until September 22, according to the ministry.
“Farmers can download the form for the programme from the website of the Agriculture Ministry,” said Santosh Mudbhari, chairman of Ward No. 1 in Dhangadhi Sub Metropolis.”
Meanwhile, most people in Sudurpaschim say they do not have any information on the government’s new programme.
Dan Bahadur BK, a resident of Tikapur in Kailali who was on his way to India on Saturday, said, “I had returned home from India in mid-April, hoping to start a business here or get a job. But there’s no work available and I don’t have enough money to start a business. If I had known about such an agriculture programme before, I would have started vegetable farming and stayed home.”
Arjun Pariyar, a resident of Lamki Chuha, who was also on his way to India from Gauriphanta, said, “Such programmes are not for genuine farmers. They are only for party activists and supporters.”
Bhim Bahadur Sarki, a local of ward No. 7 of Parashuram Municipality in Dadeldhura, said, “Some of us in my village had filled up the forms. But I don’t think I will get the subsidy. Such programmes are only for well-connected people. That is why I have decided to go back to India to work.”
Stating that vegetables worth millions of rupees are being imported from India on a daily basis, Dinesh Bhandari, former chairman of the Kailali Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the government could encourage youths to get involved in vegetable farming.
“But the government cannot even hold migrant workers in their villages for three months. The local and provincial governments have failed to provide employment opportunities to the youths,” he said.
In the current fiscal year, the Sudurpaschim government has allocated Rs 5 billion on projects and programmes to create employment opportunities to returnees from India and overseas.
The government has also set aside a budget for skill training programmes and plans to provide loans to farmers without interest, according to Minister for Internal Affairs and Law Jhapat Bohara.
According to him, the Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reform have allocated budget for self employment and subsidies programmes.
“But we cannot provide jobs to all returnees immediately as the employment programmes are still in the implementation phase. It will take some time to implement those programmes,” Bohara said. He added that all of the programmes will be implemented from the first quarter of the current fiscal year. “I request people to participate in the programme and be patient.”
According to the data of the Ministry of Social Development, an estimated 300,000-400,000 individuals working in India and overseas have returned to Sudurpaschim Province since the start of the pandemic.