After a dip in April, the demand for work under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MG-NREGS) has again seen a rise. According to an analysis of official data, 39 lakh more families availed the rural job guarantee programme across the country in May this year as compared to the same month last year.
The data, obtained from the NREGA portal, shows that 2.61 crore households worked under the scheme in May 2022, which is 39 lakh – or 17.39 per cent – higher than 2.22 crore in the corresponding month of last year.
The number of households that availed the NREGS is lower than May 2020, when it sharply rose to 3.30 crore as migrants returned to their villages in wake of lockdown during the first wave of Covid-19. However, it is higher than the 2.10 crore figure recorded in May 2019 in the pre-pandemic times.
In April this year, 1.86 crore families availed the NREGS, which is 26 lakh – or 12.27 per cent – lower than the number recorded in April last year.
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In all, out of 33 states and Union Territories, for which comparable data is available, 21 states and UTs – Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Bihar, Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Nagaland, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Assam, Gujarat, Telangana, Puducherry, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Sikkim, Ladakh, Goa, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep – recorded a combined increase of 68 lakh in the number families availing the NREGS during May 2022 (1.73 crore families) over the same month of last year (1.05 crore families).
The rest of the 12 states and UTs – Manipur, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Meghalaya, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh – registered a combined decline of 29 lakh in the number of households that availed the NREGS during May 2022 (88.19 lakh families) over the same month of last year (1.17 crore families).
Uttar Pradesh saw the maximum increase in terms of the absolute increase in the number of families availing the NREGS. In May this year, 26.28 lakh families availed the NREGS in the state, which is 17.38 lakh or 195 per cent higher than the same month of last year. It is followed by Tamil Nadu, which recorded an increase of 15.92 lakh – from 17.17 lakh in May last year to 33.10 lakh this year.
The maximum decline of 9.10 lakh was recorded in Chhattisgarh where 6.78 lakh households worked under the NREGS as against 15.89 lakh during the same month last year. It was followed by Jharkhand where 6.62 lakh less families worked under the NREGS in May 2022 (2.95 lakh) when compared to the same month last year (9.57 lakh).
Under NREGS, every rural household, whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work, is entitled to get at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year.
As on June 25, 2022, 3.62 crore families availed the NREGS during the current financial year 2022-23. In the financial year 2021-22, 7.26 crore families had worked under the scheme.
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