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Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Lockdown effect: 22 lakh more MNREGS labourers in Rajasthan this year than 2019

Officials say the increase in the MNREGS figures accounts for those who earlier didn’t have to rely on the employment guarantee scheme but after the Covid-19 crisis has now joined the labour force under the scheme in absence of work.

Written by Deep Mukherjee | Jaipur | Published: July 1, 2020 7:17:12 am
MNREGS workers protest as they demand more wages and increase in number of workdays. Express

The labour force engaged in Rajasthan under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) by the end of June is 22 lakh more than what it was at this time last year, government data reveals.

Officials say the increase in the MNREGS figures accounts for those who earlier didn’t have to rely on the employment guarantee scheme but after the Covid-19 crisis has now joined the labour force under the scheme in absence of work.

According to the government data pertaining to MNREGS workforce, the total unskilled labour engaged as of Tuesday in Rajasthan is more than 50.9 lakh people, much higher than that of the 28.8 lakh persons who were working under the scheme in June 2019.

The data reveals that ever since April 17, the time around which MNREGS work started following the easing of lockdown restrictions, the labour force went on to increase throughout May and June.

The labourers engaged under MNREGS was only 62,000 on April 17 but increased to 8,30,211 people on April 24 and by May 2, the figure had increased to over 14 lakh persons.

The data indicates that all 33 districts in the state saw an increase in the labour force employed when compared to the figures of June last year.

Among the districts, as of Tuesday, with 3,89,649 unskilled labourers engaged in MGNREGS, Bhilwara has topped the chart when it comes to the highest labour force in the state, followed by districts such as Dungarpur (3,83,804), Ajmer (2,97,004) and Udaipur (2,52,961) people, the data reveals.

The data reveals all these districts saw the almost doubling in the labour force as compared to the data pertaining to last year.

In 2019, Bhilwara had a labour force of only 1,88,320 people while Dungarpur, Ajmer and Udaipur had labour force of 1,93,797, 1,52,723 and 1,17,220 persons respectively during June.

Many of these labourers are migrant workers who returned to Rajasthan from other states after the lockdown was announced.

“As compared to last year, we have seen a more than 22 lakh increase in the MNREGS labour force ever since the lockdown restrictions were eased in April,” said MNREGS Commissioner PC Kishan. He added that the figures kept on increasing throughout May and June.

“The figures pertaining to the labour force kept on increasing throughout April, May and June, as more people who earlier didn’t depend on MNREGS, joined the scheme in absence of other work opportunities during the lockdown in order to sustain themselves during the Covid-19 crisis,” said Kishan.

MNREGS workers and civil society members throughout various districts of Rajasthan have also demonstrated, demanding increased wages to Rs 600 everyday, along with an increase of the work period to 200 days every year.

The wages of MNREGS in Rajasthan are fixed at the maximum of Rs 220, with the payments made fortnightly.

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