The participation of the Scheduled Caste (SC) and women in National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) in Punjab has grown by leaps and bounds in the first quarter 100 days (April 1 to June 20) of this financial year. Punjab’s share in total person-days is more than the national average.
A person working for one full day will be deemed to constitute one “person day”.
The state has recorded 7.56 per cent and 8.25 per cent increase in its SC and women’s person-days, respectively, against last year’s total share in both categories. Also, the state has recorded 55.26% and 12.43% increase in SC and women’s person-days, respectively, when compared to the national average this year under the scheme.
Data sourced from the NREGA portal showed that SC and women’s share in total person-days was 74.67% and 68.37%, respectively, in first 100 days from April to June 20, as against 67.11% and 60.12%, respectively, in the entire last financial year.
Nationally, the SC and women’s person-days share has been recorded at 19.41% and 55.94% in this financial year’s first 100 days.
Interestingly, Punjab’s share is also the highest in the past five years in both categories.
According to the data, SCs’ person days were 65.1%, 68.96% and 73.74% in 2020-21, 2019-20 and 2018-19, respectively. Similarly, women’s person days in these years were 56.92%, 58.79% and 60.73%, respectively.
Out of the 22 districts of Punjab, 19 have recorded an increase in the SC category, while 21 have registered an increase in women person-days share.
The 23rd district of the state which was carved out last year, Malerkotla’s first year record also is quite good as it shows 87.19% and 81.19% share in SC and women person-days, respectively.
The districts which have recorded high share in SC person-days, Jalandhar tops the table with 92.36% followed by Moga 91.04%, Barnala 90.61%, Ludhiana 85.85%, Kapurthala 85.19%, Mukatsar Sahib 84.92%, Mansa 83.14%, Bathinda 82.86%, Faridkot 81.48% and Firozpur 80.9%. Only Gurdaspur district is at the bottom as far as SC person days are concerned with just 11.83% share recorded.
In Doaba region – Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr districts – where the SC population is highest in the country, the SC person-days share is also highest in Jalandhar district followed by Kapurthala.
As per the records, women person-days share is highest in Ludhiana with 82%, Malerkotla 81.19%, Fatehgarh Sahib 79.01%, Ropar 77.45%, Mohali 76.52%, Bathinda 76.22%, Patiala 74.62%, Barnala 74.78%, Mansa 74.23% and Moga with 73.08%. Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Sangrur districts also recorded more than 70% share in women person-days category.
Pathankot and Gurdaspur districts are at the bottom with 26.42% and 38.95%, respectively, in women person days share category.
An official with Punjab Rural Development and Panchayat Department said that of the total 16.2 lakh active NREGA workers, 67.09% are SC workers.
Owing to poor job opportunities, the unskilled workers in the villages prefer to work under NREGA, a district development and panchayat officer said. NREGS aims to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to at least one member of every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
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