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Concern in govt over reasons for NREGA boom | India News

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Concern in govt over reasons for NREGA boom | India News 1

In five more days or so, Telangana will generate around 10.5 crore persondays of work under MGNREGA. Then, the state would have overhauled its performance for the entire 2019-20. After the scheme resumed on April 20 following the lockdown, the state has already touched 94% of persondays generated last year.
Telangana touching the level of work of 365 days of 2019-20 in less than 75 days this year points to an extraordinary MGNREGA boom. The work demand and generation are marching at a breakneck pace in the wake of the corona pandemic and might break all records for distress labour employment.
But while the performance is being held up as evidence of the job scheme successfully absorbing the rural demand for employment, there are serious concerns in the Union rural development ministry about some “disproportionate figures” and their “underlying, hidden reasons”.
A senior official told TOI, “We will have to look at it closely. One reason for high work generation may be that post-lockdown, states and district administrations have focused only on MGNREGA and not on other avenues of employment to save their financial expenditure. Under MGNREGA, the budget mostly comes from the Centre.”
According to sources, what is surprising is exceptionally high work in states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Chhattisgarh. “The share of returnee migrant workers in these states is low. So, high persondays here in such a short span appear disproportionate,” an official said.
It suggests there may be a closer scrutiny of states once the dust settles. If there are alarm bells, the reasons lie in the ballooning figures of work.
A TOI analysis of MGNREGA “progress report” found that besides Telangana, states like Chhattisgarh and Gujarat are touching a high mark – having generated 65% of persondays created last year. Andhra Pradesh is around 62% of 2019-20 and Uttar Pradesh is touching 49%. Another key MGNREGA catchment area of Odisha has generated 43% of persondays year-on-year.
According to experts, the turnout for the rural job scheme implies that there is little employment available in the countryside after the lockdown and informal economy may nearly have collapsed. Yet at the same time agricultural economy was not much affected by the lockdown due to exemptions to farming operations and high procurements is evidence of this.
Between April 20 and June 28, Bihar has achieved 44% of persondays generated in 2019-20 and Madhya Pradesh has nearly 43%.
For a state badly hit by the pandemic right from the onset of the virus, Rajasthan has recovered well to provide 37% of person days of 2019-20. Haryana and Karnataka have roughly the same figure.
Another slow starter because of high prevalence of coronavirus, Maharashtra has scored 33% of persondays from last year, almost the same as West Bengal. Jharkhand has a tally of 31.4%.
However, work generation has remained low in the hill states: 8%-23% in the north-east, 23% in Uttarakhand and 20.5% in Himachal Pradesh.

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