Indicating all may not be well with the government’s flagship job guarantee scheme, half of the states have been unable to generate even 30 persondays of employment per household under the programme this fiscal, and labour demand is falling far short of expectations in most states, according to the Ministry of Rural Development.
Similar problems in implementation were spotted in the Performance Review Committee (PRC) meeting for the corresponding quarter last fiscal and rectification measures were suggested but not much seems to have changed.
PRC meetings are held every quarter.
Minutes of the PRC meeting on September 24-25 portray a rather dim picture of performance of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) this financial year.
MGNREGA, which promises 100 days of employment every year to each rural family has been a politically crucial legislation for the Congress and was even credited for helping the party return to power in 2009 with an impressive mandate.
According to the PRC meeting minutes, 14 states including key ones like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa as well as poll-bound Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh generated less than 28 persondays per household - the national average - till September 16 this year. The minutes also indicate a significant gap between the projected labour budget and the actual labour demand.
“It was found that the actual labour demand was below 50% in many districts of the States like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, MP, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Maharashtra, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Nagaland,” the minutes state.
A labour budget gives an estimated projection of demand and is expected to be based on a “realistic” assessment. The extent of the labour budget target met reflects the state’s ability for planning and capacity for implementation and lower achievements indicate poor capacity as well as lack of planning.
States have now been asked to take “rectification measures” and draw up “realistic” labour budgets for next year.
Ministry officials, however, say these figures will pick up. They also point out the data comes with a time lag.
Minutes of the meeting also state that participation of women was less than the mandatory 33 percent in seven states, including Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. Noting poor work completion rates, the minutes say, “Yearwise work completion was analyzed and found that the completion rate is low vis-à-vis national average in most states.”