IN a clear sign that MGNREGA has emerged as a safety net for lakhs amid the economic distress triggered by Covid-19, over 83 lakh new households have been issued job cards under the scheme during the first five months of the current financial year. Signficantly, this number — from April 1 to September 3— is higher than the annual surge for the last seven years for which data is available on the NREGA portal.
This is a jump of 28.32 per cent from the 64.70 lakh new job cards issued in the entire 2019-20 year.
This sharp increase in new job cards comes at a time when a large number of migrants have returned to their villages in the wake of Covid.
Of the 83.02 lakh new job cards, the highest have been added in Uttar Pradesh (21.09 lakh), followed by Bihar (11.22 lakh), West Bengal (6.82 lakh), Rajasthan (6.58 lakh) and Madhya Pradesh (5.56 lakh) — states which received a large number of returning migrants.
Editorial| With MGNREGA’s help
In percentage terms, too, the growth in new job cards has been the highest in Uttar Pradesh (173 per cent) — 21.09 lakh new cards, up from 7.72 lakh last year. UP is followed by Andhra Pradesh (154 per cent) and Rajasthan (69 per cent).
Under MGNREGA, every rural household is entitled to a job card, which has names and photographs of all adult members of the household who can demand and receive work.
According to MGNREGA rules, the job card can be cancelled if a household has “migrated permanently to urban areas; or to a different gram panchayat; or it is proved to be a duplicate; or it has been registered based on forged documents”.
The data shows that 10.39 lakh NREGA job cards have been deleted so far this financial year — 13.97 lakh cards were deleted in 2019-20.
As of September 3, 2020, the cumulative number of job cards stands at 14.36 crore.