Tamil Nadu

Applicants for MGNREGS work on the rise in cyclone-hit districts

The administrations in cyclone-affected Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur and Pudukottai districts are facing a challenge in dealing with a surge in the number of new applicants under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

Though the MGNREGS is a demand-driven programme where provision of work is based on demand from wage-seekers, the officials, it is learnt, are facing a technical difficulties in issuing job cards to new applicants, largely comprised of those who had lost their homes and farms to Cyclone Gaja. The economic condition of many affected families deprived of their livelihood is now said to be worse than below poverty line (BPL) families, who are eligible for employment under the MGNREGS.

The difficulty is not only because of the need for a prospective beneficiary of the scheme to get their Aaadhar numbers linked to their bank pass books for receiving wages through electronic payments. According to officials in the region, the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) of each district is required to adhere to a time line for submitting the labour budget, based on which the Central government makes the allocation.

The Rural Development Department is required to go by the prior survey of job card holders undertaken in every gram panchayat in order to prepare a base line to assess the quantum and timing of demand for employment. Credible local grassroots civil society organisations undertake door-to-door survey to identify eligible people for the scheme. Alongside able-bodied adults, they also have to reach out to disadvantaged groups like destitutes/widows, differently-abled, primitive tribal groups, nomadic tribal groups, senior citizens, SCs and STs.

The DRDA ensures 100 days of work a year, engaging workers in construction of buildings for Anganwadis and Village Panchayat Office, grain godown, desiltation of PWD supply channels and field channels, formation of new roads, farm ponds and planting of trees.

‘No bar’

According to an official, there is no bar on new applicants seeking to get enrolled under the scheme, though there is a procedure involved. Another official in Tiruvarur district explained that there was a time line that had to be adhered to.

Labour Budget

The annual plan of the gram panchayats is approved on August 15 every year at the Gram Sabha meetings, and submitted to the Project Officer of DRDA. The DRDA Project Officer, in turn, submits the consolidated gram panchayat plans to the Block Development Officers. The Labour Budget is due for submission to the Central government by month-end. It is finalised during February and the first tranche is released during the first week of April.

There are indications that the job card holders are being provided work under the scheme to tide over the economic crisis. But officials, citing practical difficulties, say they are not able to accommodate newcomers into the scheme immediately.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 4:11:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/applicants-for-mgnregs-work-on-the-rise-in-cyclone-hit-districts/article25693632.ece

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