January 8, 2014 4:04:03 pm
As the fiscal draws to a close and Lok Sabha elections approach, data show the flagship job guarantee scheme of the Congress-led UPA government may be faltering on many counts, including time-bound payments.
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act promises employment for 100 days per rural household per year. The Act is often credited for helping the Congress return to power in 2009. However, Ministry of Rural Development data up to December 2013 show the scheme has underperformed on several crucial parameters eight years after it was introduced.
According to the data, only 68 per cent of payments for work under the scheme were generated within the mandated 15 days. This means nearly a third of the workers were not paid on time. The Act requires workers to be paid within 15 days of completion of work. Delay in wage payments has been a major issue, causing dissatisfaction and hardship among workers.
The data also show the participation of women has been less than the mandatory 33 per cent in seven states. In Uttar Pradesh, only 22 per cent of those provided employment under the Act were women. The average days of employment provided to each household was also low at 34.7, less than the previous fiscals when the figures were 46.1 and 43.2.
In 11 states, more than a third of households that benefited got employment for less than 15 days. In West Bengal, for instance, 55 per cent of households worked for less than 15 days.
Only 60 per cent of funds have been used so far this fiscal. Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Sikkim had used less than half their allocation till December. Only five states have been able to use more than 75 per cent.
Ministry officials, however, said there was a lag and the data may improve later.
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