The National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme is proving to be more of a trouble-maker than a boon for Sirsa district in Haryana, highly dependent on migrant labourers for its agriculture.
The scheme that guarantees 100 days of work a year to unskilled manual workers in select districts, has resulted in a fall in the number of migrant labourers visiting this agro belt during crucial periods like harvesting, plantation etc.
Labour, especially from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, is not coming in big numbers to our area now as they are getting work in their own states, courtesy NREGA. This is turning out to be big problem as the compensation for work they did for us is now shooting up, rues Ram Kumar, sarpanch of Nuhiyan Wali village.
Against the Rs 100 or so paid as daily wages to a migrant labourer, they were paying as much as Rs 200. There is a shortage of labour and when we seek local people for the same job, they are demanding more, the sarpanch says.
Sona Ram, sarpanch of Panihari village in the same district, also lists out a similar problem. The zamindars (land-holders) are peeved. The paddy labourers from Bihar are not coming to Haryana and Punjab, which is leading to problems, Ram says. The large number of cheap migrant labourers plays a crucial role during the harvesting season in April and also during paddy plantation in May-June.