The demand for work under the MGNREGA has soared to an all-time high, with about 5.53 crore households availing the rural job guarantee scheme in just four-and a-half months of the current financial year.
This is the highest demand the scheme has seen since its inception in 2006-07, an analysis of data available on the MGNREGA portal shows.
The earlier record was in 2010-11, when 5.5 crore households availed of MGNREGA work—but that was the figure for the whole financial year.
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The unprecedented spike in the demand for unskilled work under MGNREGA comes in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, which has disrupted economic activity in cities and forced a large number of migrants to return to their villages.
About 5.48 crore households availed MGNREGA work in the last fiscal, shows the data on the portal. However, the number of households that availed MGNREGA during the current year has already reached about 5.53 crore till August 16. And if the present trends continue, it may go up further by the end of the fiscal.
The scheme, which guarantees 100 days of wage employment to every rural household in one financial year, was launched in the 200 most backward rural districts of the country in 2006-07. It was extended to 130 more districts in 2007-08 and across the country from 2008-09.
A month-wise analysis of the data shows that after an initial dip in April during the lockdown, the demand for work under MGNREGA continued to rise in the current financial year. The number of households that availed work under the scheme rose to 3.30 crore in May—55 per cent higher than the corresponding month last year. The increase was higher in the following months. In June this year, the number of households that availed MGNREGA work reached 3.89 crore—77.95 per cent higher than the 2.16 crore figure in the same month last year. The figure crossed 2.70 crore this July—79.96 per cent higher than last July.
A statewise break-up of the data shows that at least nine states—Goa, Nagaland, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana—registered over a 100 per cent increase in the number of households that worked under MGNREGA in July this year, in comparison to the corresponding month last year.
In May and June this year, 12 and 15 states, respectively, have registered an increase of over a 100 per cent in the number of households that worked under the scheme in comparison to the same months last year.
In all, 175.56 crore person-days have been generated till August 16 across the country against the labour budget of 280.69 crore person-days for the entire financial year. In the current fiscal, Rs 48,610.68 crore has been spent under the scheme. Out of this, about Rs 35,211.31 crore have been spent on wages.
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