Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday launched the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan to offer immediate employment opportunities to migrant workers who have returned to their villages during the coronavirus-induced lockdown. The prime minister praised villages, saying they way the tackled the pandemic has taught big lesson to cities in the country.

“Today, this scheme is being launched from Bihar’s Khagaria [district],” Modi said. “We aim to help people get livelihoods near their homes. This scheme has been inspired by migrant workers. They will be provided jobs near their homes. So far, you were using your talent for the development of cities. Now you will help your villages, your neighbourhoods.”

Under the scheme, Rs 50,000 crore would be spent in 116 districts across six states that have the highest number of workers to provide immediate relief. The states include Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan.

Modi also said India is proud of the sacrifice made by Army personnel in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on June 15. At least 20 soldiers lost their lives in the worst violence on the Indo-China border since 1975. “Today when I am speaking to people of Bihar, I will say the valour was of Bihar Regiment, every Bihari is proud of it,” Modi added. “I pay tributes to the braves who laid down their lives for the nation.”

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The prime minister interacted with several people from villages who had to travel to their home states after the lockdown was imposed in March. “We tried to make sure that we could offer maximum support to you during the restrictions,” Modi told them. “Whether someone acknowledges your work or not, I hail your contribution in fighting coronavirus. In a country with more than six lakh villages, where more than 80 to 85 crore people live, the spread of this disease was stopped.”

Modi also highlighted that internet was being used more in villages than cities. “Work to increase internet speed, laying of fibre cables will be undertaken,” he said.

Detailing the scheme, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had on Thursday said that workers will be employed in rural housing, rural connectivity, railway works, community sanitation, anganwadis, water conservation, digging of wells, plantation and horticulture, among others.

Hundreds and thousand of migrants have lost their jobs and returned to their villages due to the strict lockdown aimed at containing the spread of the new coronavirus. India has so far recorded more than 3.95 lakh confirmed cases and 12,948 deaths on Saturday, according to the figures from the health ministry.