The government on Friday informed the parliamentary standing committee on labour that funds won’t be a constraint in providing guaranteed wage employment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MG-NREGS) to the rural poor.
“Secretary to the rural development ministry informed us that on top of Rs 61,500 crore allocated in the Budget for the current fiscal, an additional Rs 40,000 crore has been allocated to MG-NREGS as part of the relief package. He assured us that even if the need arises for more funds due to higher demand for works under MG-NREGS, that would be provided,” committee chairman Bhartruhari Mahtab said.
Demand for jobs has been unprecedented this fiscal, mostly due to returnee migrant workers. Already half of the estimated 300 crore persondays for the whole year were created in the first four months of the current fiscal. With eight months still to go, members said, the demand for work might exceed the estimate and that might call for more allocation for the scheme.
As on Friday, 167.14 crore persondays have been created under MG-NREGS and the government has released Rs 52,980 crore. MG-NREGS is a demand-driven programme. It guarantees at least 100 days of wage employment to every household in rural areas, who volunteers to do unskilled manual work.
The skill development ministry informed the committee that it was still doing the skill mapping of the returnee migrant workers in the 116 districts identified under the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan scheme. However, jobs have been provided to 5,000 of such workers and 36,000 others have been offered jobs.
“This shows the job situation is very bleak,” Mahtab said.
Due to time constraint, the committee could not speak to officials of all four ministries, as was planned earlier, to understand the progress already made and the road map of the schemes earmarked for returnee migrant and unogansied workers as part of the government’s overall Rs 20-lakh-crore economic package to mitigate the Covid-19 impact.
The next meeting has been scheduled on August 17.