Patna: Bihar’s Opposition has accused state rural development minister Shrawan Kumar of manipulating data over the number of poorest of the poor provided work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in the state in 2021-2022 financial year.
In his reply to the Assembly on Tuesday, Kumar claimed that 61.97 lakh, or 99.81%, out of the total 62.9 lakh people who demanded work under MGNREGA were employed as against the national average of 99.11% during the same period.
However, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav alleged on Wednesday that the MGNREGA data was fake, fabricated and manipulated. As per the MGNREGA website, there were total 94.66 lakh active workers and 45.67 lakh individuals got work or worked under MGNREGA, according to Yadav. Besides, total 14,590 workers were provided 100 days of employment with the average days of employment provided per household at 36.65.
Yadav said that as per the official data, 1.53 crore people demanded work under MGNREGA in 2021-2022 contrary to Kumar’s claim. He dared Kumar to sit with officials face to face to explain the data presented by him if it is not fake and manipulated. He also shared links of real time data to prove his point that Kumar was wrong.
After Yadav countered the state government’s data, Kumar announced that action will be taken against officials found guilty for providing the wrong information.
As per the MGNREGA website, 236.21 lakhs job cards were issued during in Bihar during the last financial year but the total number of active job cards are 80.88 lakh, which is only 34.2%.
The daily wage of Rs 197.92 in Bihar under MGNREGA is lowest in the country, which is far less than the state government’s minimum wage rate for unskilled labourers, according to activists. A Panchayat Rojgar Sewak in drought-prone Gaya district told Newsclick that a large number of workers are not very keen to work under MGNREGA because of the abysmally low wages.
Mahender Yadav of National Alliance of People’s Movements in Bihar termed the low wages as “unconstitutional” as they are lower than the state’s minimum wage rate. MGNREGA was the main source of livelihood of migrant workers who left in droves during the 2020 lockdown.