Lockdown: MGNREGS sees drastic drop

Telangana has about 1.2 crore registered workers from 54.2 lakh families.   | Photo Credit: JOTHI RAMALINGAM B

Workers registered for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) are a disappointed lot this year during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A study by the NGO Libtech India for the months of April and May this year has concluded that there was drastic drop in person-days generated by way of employment guarantee when compared with last year’s first wave. There has been a drop of 30 per cent in the work generated, as visible from the person-days coming down from 8.27 crore of last year to 5.85 crore corresponding to the two months.

Only three out of the 31 districts, Medchal, Gadwal and Asifabad, clocked increase in the person-days during the two months, the study noted citing statistics from the government website. When viewed separately, the month of April showed higher employment generation when compared to the corresponding month last year. Around 17 lakh households received employment during April this year, while 15 lakh households were covered during the same month last year. A total of 3.2 crore person-days were generated in the month this year, as against 2.2 crore last year.

However, the figures dropped steeply for the month of May. Only 2.6 crore person-days have been generated in the month this year, as compared to six crore person-days last year for the corresponding period. Number of households employed came down from 10 lakh to mere 4.3 lakh. More than 85 per cent village panchayats have seen a decline in person-days generated when compared with last year, the study analysed, attributing it to the local governments unilaterally halting the works. As the government laid off field assistants two years ago, there was nobody to persuade and counsel them for the works to continue.

Last year during initial days of the lockdown financial schemes by the State and Central government moderated the impact of the economic crisis. This year, no such schemes have been announced, which made the employment guarantee works the only fallback option for the poorest and most vulnerable rural population, the study noted.

Telangana has about 1.2 crore registered workers from 54.2 lakh families, most of whom migrate to neighbouring States for work. For the past two years, such migration has been cut short due to the pandemic, curfews and lockdown. Further, several labourers from Telangana have begun to arrive to their respective villages, which increased the demand for the MGNREG works, it said, and urged the government to prioritise migrant workers returning home.

A statement from Libtech India also sought a special helpline to record demand for work, besides a record of such demand at village/panchayat level.

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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 7:26:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/lockdown-mgnregs-sees-drastic-drop/article34824746.ece

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