Three months after the Ministry of Rural Development launched ‘Kaam Maango Abhiyan’, aimed at capturing demand effectively for its flagship scheme Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the impact is beginning to become clear in several select districts of the country.
The focus has been in six districts – Sitapur (Uttar Pradesh), Nashik (Maharashtra), Raichur (Karnataka), Katihar (Bihar), West Singhbum (Jharkhand) and Sundergarh (Odisha). The campaign covered nearly 2,700 panchayats in these six districts, demand for work applications of 4,64,313 and job card applications of 71,189 have been registered.
A comparative analysis of demand for work in the districts in the time period of November 2013 to January 2014 (the Abhiyan months) against the same time period in the previous year has revealed a towering increase of almost 400 per cent. Last week, Aruna Roy, eminent social activist and former NAC member, urged Congress president Sonia Gandhi to intervene personally to give a “strong political push” to the UPA's flagship schemes such as the MGNREGA and the Social Security Pensions.
In her letter to Ms. Gandhi who heads the National Advisory Council, Ms. Roy noted that as the term of the 15th Lok Sabha draws to a close “four important assurances” of the United Progressive Alliance government are “still to be implemented, despite being supported by a national political consensus”. Besides MGNREGA and Social Security Pensions, the other two are accountability laws like the Whistleblower Protection Bill and the pre-legislative consultative process for all laws.
With regard to MGNREGA, Ms. Roy said while crores of people have benefited from the scheme, “its implementation remains unfortunately suspect”. She pointed out the “falling figures of employment” as “proof of the lack of administrative and political will” to run the scheme, and said that “disturbing reports are coming in from different states and districts facing a cash crunch and their consequent refusal to implement it as a true demand-based programme”