The number of families which got employment under MGNREGA during the lockdown has increased almost three-fold in Haryana in the past three months compared to the corresponding period last year. In May alone, the number of families which worked under the scheme this year is seven times higher than last year.
According to official figures, as many as 3.39 lakh labourer families got employment in different projects like the construction of water ponds or ground levelling in April, May and June this year while this number was 1.15 lakh for the same period in 2019. Officials say the works under MGNREGA were in full swing in May this year as the government had started focusing on creation of employment opportunities under the scheme from mid-April. With this, as many as 1.72 lakh households got employment in May this year while this number was just 24,818 in May 2019.
“We felt that this is the way in which money can reach rural areas during these tough times. It was important that we should give adequate work to those who are dependent on MGNREGA for employment and are worst affected due to Covid-19,” Haryana Additional Chief Secretary Sudhir Rajpal told The Indian Express.
Officials say Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar held meetings with the officers of different departments, including forest, PWD (public works department), agriculture and public health asking them to generate more opportunities of employment under the scheme. These departments have identified more than 6,000 projects worth Rs 238 crore to provide job opportunities to the labourers. The work of desilting of drains too was carried out under the MGNREGA.
Not only this, even the village sarpanches have been asked to give preference to the labourers of MGNREGA in the execution of development works. “The works under MGNREGA have already started in about 50% of the village panchayats (3,560) in the state. In a period of about one month, the works will be started in all the villages of the state,” says Hardeep Singh, an IAS officer, who looks after the implementation of the scheme in Haryana. “Haryana offers the highest wages of Rs 309 per day which is the highest in the country under MGNREGA,” he adds.
Officials say this time, the state has a target to spend Rs 1,000 crore under the scheme which is more than double the expenditure of previous financial year. “This time we have laid special focus on creation of assets on private land too. For example, we have started construction of cattle sheds in poor households,” says Sudhir Rajpal. Under the scheme as many as 40,000 cattle sheds will be constructed and work has already been started on 1,600 of them. Sources say labourers who are from poor families, including from small and marginal farmers, may be able to get wages for construction of such sheds for their own cattle.
Singh says, “If a labourer seeks work under MGNREGA, he will be provided the same within 15 days in Haryana. We have instructed the officers to give their wages on time.”
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