The awareness of the Centre's ambitious rural job scheme — the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) — varies across different regions of the State and only 56.33 per cent of the households are aware of the scheme.

Evaluation of the impact of the processes in the MNREGA in Karnataka (2011), conducted by the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore, for the State Government reveals that there have been delays in allotment of works and payment of wages, unevenness in the quality work, differences in wages for men and women and arbitrary process of assessing the labour.

Study

The evaluation conducted by a research team, led by Narendra Pani, professor, NIAS, noted that the awareness of the scheme was low in north Karnataka districts.

Only about 19.27 per cent households of in northeast districts, comprising Bidar, Koppal, Gulbarga, Bijapur and Yadgir, and 25.75 per cent in northwest districts of Haveri, Belgaum, Gadag, Bagalkote, Davangere and Dharwad were aware of the scheme.

Awareness levels were higher than 50 per cent in tribal dominated districts such as Raichur, Chitradurga and Bellary (51.20 per cent), southern Karnataka districts (75.29 per cent) and highest in Malnad districts (92.84 per cent).

The study covered a sample size of 2,068 households in 22 villages across 10 districts in five regions.

The scheme, which was launched in the State in 2006-07, was extended to the entire State in 2008-09. Under the scheme, a beneficiary is paid of Rs. 125 per day.

100 days of work

The awareness of 100 days entitlement a year of work was just 44.08 per cent among the households in the State. The northeast districts recorded the lowest awareness level at 9.86 per cent followed by northwest region (10.25 per cent), tribal belt (30.86 per cent), south (67.73 per cent) and Malnad region (77.19 per cent).

Awareness about job cards was also dismally low in northeast region with 19.27 per cent against the State average of 56.33 per cent. Noting existence of fake job cards, the study said “the phenomenon of job cards with a different number but of the same household is widespread across all regions”.

Tribal belt

There were 29 per cent of job cards issued with different numbers but same households in the State of which the highest was in the tribal belt (41.72 per cent). Around a fifth of the job card holders have not had a single day's employment under the scheme.

Unemployment allowance

According to the study, “the State Government's record in paying unemployment allowance is very poor. The unemployment allowance is due for 76,773 workers”. However, not a single worker was paid unemployment allowance in the State. As per the Act, the payments must be made within 15 days of works done. “What is alarming is that the average time taken for payments is over seven months,” said the report.