Rural jobs scheme: Demand for work falls in November

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December 2, 2020 2:30 AM

The big jump shows the high efficacy of the popular scheme to avert a rural distress in the pandemic period that saw tens of thousands of migrant workers returning to their rural homes from cities.

Four months to go in the current financial year, but generation of person (work) days under Mahatma Gandhi-National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MG-NREGS) has reached within the striking distance of surpassing the highest tally in any year of 267.96 crore recorded in 2018-19.Four months to go in the current financial year, but generation of person (work) days under Mahatma Gandhi-National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MG-NREGS) has reached within the striking distance of surpassing the highest tally in any year of 267.96 crore recorded in 2018-19.

The demand for work under the rural employment scheme (MG-NREGS) jumped in May as the lockdown was eased, peaked in June, but continued to remain at elevated levels through October, according to official data. However, in November, the demand for work both at the household as well as the individual levels fell in comparison to October. This may be signalling an improvement in the economy, as part of the fall in demand may have been due to a pick-up in construction and assorted service industries.

While 2.43 crore households demanded work in October, the number was down to 2.25 crore in November. Similarly, persons seeking job in November fell to 2.85 crore from 3.09 crore in October. Person days generated in November was also down by 45% over October to 14.35 crore.

Four months to go in the current financial year, but generation of person (work) days under Mahatma Gandhi-National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MG-NREGS) has reached within the striking distance of surpassing the highest tally in any year of 267.96 crore recorded in 2018-19.

At 267.34 crore, as on December 1, the number of person days generated under the scheme is higher than the entire last fiscal’s tally of 265.44 crore and all other previous years since the scheme came into effect in 2006. As FE reported earlier, generation of person days in the current fiscal year could be around 420 crore.

The big jump shows the high efficacy of the popular scheme to avert a rural distress in the pandemic period that saw tens of thousands of migrant workers returning to their rural homes from cities.

There is evidence of a sharp increase in supply (work offered, which is reflected on person days) in June-July, as the government struggled to extend timely relief to the under-privileged. The person days in both these months were double the year-ago levels, a surge which surpassed even the recorded rise in demand for work. Mindful of budget constraints, there has since been a moderate regulation of the release of funds (supply) by the government.

The Centre has been generous with the allocations for the MG-NREGS this year (including Rs 10,000 crore provided for rural employment in the latest tranche of stimulus, the scheme’s budget outlay for the current fiscal year is now Rs 1.11 lakh crore compared with Rs 68,300 crore in 2019-20). An amount of Rs 74,835 crore has been spent under the scheme so far this year.

An average of 40.92 days of employment has been provided to each beneficiary household under MG-NREGS so far this year, compared with of 48.4 days in the whole of last year. As part of its relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, daily wage rate under MG-NREGS was hiked by Rs 20 to Rs 202, effective April 1 this year.

The scheme’s mandate under the MGNREG Act 2005 is to provide at least 100 days of ‘wage employment’ in a financial year to every rural household whose adult member volunteers to do unskilled manual work. This goal has never been met, but the achievement this year could be closer to the threshold.

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