New Delhi: The performance of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Assam government on the Centre’s flagship rural job guarantee scheme, MGNREGA, has been wanting in terms of creating 100 days employment in rural areas that are in the grip of agrarian distress.
With only five months left for this fiscal – 2019-10 – to end, only 2,850 households in Assam completed 100 days of guaranteed employment in six districts of the state, according to a report in the Sentinel Assam.
According to data on the Rural Development website, as on October 9, the average days of employment provided to each of the 1,34, 8377 households that applied for rural jobs, was a meagre 24.8 – way below the objective of 100 days. The average wage paid per day, per person was Rs 192.96.
Citing ministry data, the report said of these six districts, the highest number (almost 50%) of 1,004 households were in Lakhimpur district, followed by only 654 household beneficiaries in in Nalbari.
“The other districts that showed a dismal picture with respect to MGNREGA are as follows: Jorhat (four households); Charaideo and Dima Hasao (three households each); Sivasagar and Nagaon (two households each); while there was no beneficiary in four other districts — Kamrup (M), South Salmara-Mankachar, Goalpara, and Hailakandi,” said the report.
As per the report, there has been a sharp drop in the number of households covered so far in rural Assam under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). In fact, the number of 2,850 is way below the compared with the last three financial years.
Under the scehem, 18,417 households benefitted in 2018-19; 10,928 households got the 100 days guaranteed work in 2017-18; and 11,411 households became beneficiaries in 2016-17 in Assam, the Sentinel reported.
It may be recalled that when it was launched in 2005 by the Congress-led United progressive Alliance-I government, MGNREGA aimed at being inclusive, creating jobs in India’s villages and putting more money in the hands of the people, as well as boost rural infrastructure. The law proposes to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work, as also created durable assets (such as roads, canals, ponds and wells).
As per the Act, jobs to rural folk are to be provided within 5 km of an applicant’s residence, and minimum wages are to be paid. “If work is not provided within 15 days of applying, applicants are entitled to an unemployment allowance. Thus, employment under MGNREGA is a legal entitlement,” the report said.
According to Sentinal Assam report, sources said that of the 50.69 lakh job card holders in Assam, 15,11,712 households applied for employment in the current fiscal. “Accordingly, various work was offered to 15,11,009 households; while 13,48,328 households were ultimately provided employment,” it added.
In March, a report had said that the demand for MGNREGA jobs had been highest, attributing it to growing rural distress and loss of jobs following demonetisation.
Citing government data, the report in the Indian Express had shown that in 2018-19, the demand for work increased by almost 10% compared with the previous year and also registered the highest number of person-days of work under the scheme since 2010-11.
Also read: Demand For MGNREGA Jobs Highest in Eight Years