Dip in MGNREGA work since pandemic: Data | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Dip in MGNREGA work since pandemic: Data

By, New Delhi
Feb 27, 2024 10:18 AM IST

In the three years since the pandemic, the amount of work in the rural jobs guarantee programme has declined every financial year from 38.9 million person days in 2020-21 to 28 million in the year so far

In the three years since the pandemic, the amount of work in the rural jobs guarantee programme has declined every financial year from 38.9 million person days in 2020-21 to 28 million in the year so far, according to data available with the rural development ministry.

For representational purposes only. (HT File Photo)
For representational purposes only. (HT File Photo)

During the same period, the total number of households who got full 100 days of work in a financial year has fallen by a whopping 61%. In 2020-21, a year when the flagship employment scheme was a lifeline for millions of workers, 7.19 million households got 100 days of work, ministry data show. In 2023-24 so far, only 2.75 million households managed to utilise the full quota stipulated under law.

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Besides a growing economy that has led to better wage opportunities in urban centres, the low wage rate in the welfare scheme in some states and delay in releasing payments had a dampening effect, experts said. “The fall in MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) work could be because of better employment opportunities available elsewhere. Also, whenever agriculture does well, the MGNREGA employment goes down,” former rural development secretary Jugal Kishore Mohapatra said.

“But in the last few years, the demand is also getting affected due to irregularity of payments. In many states, allocation (from the Centre) has not reached in time. There are reports that in some states MGNREGA wages are below the minimum wages of the state for unskilled workers,” Mohapatra added.

Average daily wage given to a MGNREGA worker was 219, which was lower than average minimum non-agricultural wages for both female and male workers, an analysis of data till October 2022 by the Accountability Initiative of the think tank Centre for Policy Research showed. A female worker got 248 daily, while a male worker received 344 during the same period.

“The falling numbers of MGNREGA work can be attributed to a number of factors...” said Himanshu, an associate professor at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University. HT reached out to a top official of the rural development ministry for comments but could not get one immediately.   

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