The government at the Centre may have changed, but the performance of the flagship rural job guarantee scheme continues to remain dismal, with households not getting work for even one third of the mandated 100 days (annually) on an average so far this year.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), introduced in February 2006, promises 100 days of employment every year to each rural household. A half-yearly review of the scheme, as per data available with the Rural Development Ministry, shows the average number of days of employment provided per household as only 31 this year so far (April-September).
Officials say figures are expected to improve by year-end but admit that it is unlikely to cross the 50-day mark. Officials say such poor statistics are due to both demand and supply problem. Given the scheme is demand driven, a decline in these figures would mean a decline in demand. However, they say there is more of a supply constraint with inadequate planning at local-level and implementation gaps like delays in wage payments, combined with fund crunch. “There has been a huge fund crunch this year with states not having received funds on time. Moreover, most states have huge backlog of payments and once they receive funds, they first clear that instead of generating fresh employment,” an official said. In fact, the delays in wage payment this year have been among the worst, despite the new government’s focus on correcting the problem.
Meanwhile, this year’s figures with respect to the average days of employment provided to each household are a continuation of the declining trend in the scheme’s implementation.
The Indian Express had earlier reported the average days of employment provided per household has been less than 50 since the scheme was instituted, except in 2009-10 which was a drought year.
The budget for the scheme has seen a massive increase from around Rs 11,000 crore in 2006-07 to Rs 40,000 crore in 2009-10. The current budgetary allocation for the scheme is Rs 33,000 crore.
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