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Rural jobs scheme: Rs 80k-cr outlay likely in FY23

Demand for work rose to a four-month high in December, reflecting early signs of reverse migration from urban areas and in tandem with a rise in unemployment rate.

Debmalya Nandy of MGNREGA Sangarsh Morcha said, “No less than Rs 1.5 lakh crore will be needed to cater to the needs of MG-NREGS workers. This (Rs 80,000 crore) is bare minimum to start the year with.”
Debmalya Nandy of MGNREGA Sangarsh Morcha said, “No less than Rs 1.5 lakh crore will be needed to cater to the needs of MG-NREGS workers. This (Rs 80,000 crore) is bare minimum to start the year with.”

Budgetary allocation for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme (MG-NREGS) will likely be around Rs 80,000 crore in 2022-23, against `98,000 crore allocated so far for 2021-22, according to official sources. The outlay for the scheme was the highest in 2020-21 at Rs 1,11,500 crore, as the original allocation of Rs 73,000 crore was sharply revised upwards to meet the rise in demand for work following the mass migration of labour from urban centres to rural areas in the aftermath of the first Covid wave.

Even for the current year, the initial allocation (Budget estimate) was Rs 61,500 crore and further amounts were allocated later in view of the high demand for work due to the pandemic and the elevated urban unemployment rate.

Insufficient allocations at the very beginning of the year often leads to disruption in work and delays in wage payments.

Rajendran Narayanan, assistant professor, Azim Premji University, said: “If the allocation is Rs 80,000 crore for the next fiscal, then it is mutilation of the demand-driven aspect of the MG-NREGS Act. By now, there is evidence suggesting that work demand suppression and delays in wage payments are a consequence of inadequate funds.”

Debmalya Nandy of MGNREGA Sangarsh Morcha said, “No less than Rs 1.5 lakh crore will be needed to cater to the needs of MG-NREGS workers. This (Rs 80,000 crore) is bare minimum to start the year with.”

MG-NREGS is a demand-driven scheme for the enhancement of livelihood security of the households in rural areas by providing at least one hundred days of guaranteed wage employment to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work in every financial year.

As reported by FE, after the recent peak in June-July 2021, the months that followed the second Covid surge, work (person days) done under MG-NREGS dipped, even as the decline in demand has been less sharp. Demand for work rose to a four-month high in December, reflecting early signs of reverse migration from urban areas and in tandem with a rise in unemployment rate.

Person days of work under the scheme in 2020-21 reached a record high of 389.11 crore from 263.55 crore a year ago. As on Thursday, a total of 291 crore person days of work has been generated in the current fiscal, according to the MG-NREGS dashboard.

Against the scheme’s mandate to provide at least 100 days of ‘wage employment’ in a financial year to every rural household, 43.7 days of employment has been provided in the current fiscal on an average, to rural households compared with 51.52 days in the last fiscal and 48.4 days in 2019-20.

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