The district administration is finding it hard to enrol members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
The wages under the scheme, which targets the uplift of the weaker segments, have not been revised. Hence, private players offer more and lure labourers to their ventures.
Rs.180 a day
The pay offered to a worker under the MGNREGS is just Rs.180 a day, for both men and women. Private players opt for men and offer them more pay. Liquor and tobacco are among the perks offered.
Officers who enrol tribal families in the scheme say that only very few fill take up MGNREGS work.
The trend now is to work in plantations in neighbouring States, save money, and lead a comfortable life here. K. Yusuf, Joint Programme Coordinator of MGNREGS in Kozhikode district, says several members of Dalit and tribal families in Kunnamangalam and Koduvally regions work in private plantations. “The employers even arrange vehicles for their transport and they seem comfortable with the package,” he adds.
As a result, the number of Dalit and tribal families depending on the government scheme in the last two years is fewer than 25,000 in Kozhikode district.
The total work days of these families are far below than that of the general group. Official figures show that only 1,518 tribal families have so far registered for works under the scheme. Regular workers are even fewer.
“In Kozhikode, 92 per cent of the MGNREGS workers are women. Since the launch of the project here in 2008, the trend has not changed,” says Mr. Yusuf. According to him, the inclusion of more fitting trades for men in the MGNREGS is a must, along with the revision of wages, to attract backward segments.