At least 12 districts have exceeded their annual job creation targets by generating substantially higher numbers of person-days’ work between April 1 and July 21, going over their projected figure for the entire financial year. This shows a rise in demand for unskilled work under MGNREGA in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
From coastal areas to hinterlands, and from agricultural regions to industrial belt, these districts are spread across four states. Barring Mirzapur, in Uttar Pradesh, none of these districts is included in the official government list of 116 districts that received most returning migrant workers during the lockdown, and where the government had launched the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan on June 20.
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An analysis of MGNREGA data of 693 districts shows at least 12 districts have generated significantly higher person-days until July 21 in the ongoing financial year than their projected figure for the entire fiscal. These districts are: Vizianagaram (Andhra Pradesh); Bhavnagar, Dahod and Gir Somnath (Gujarat); Wanaparthy, Karimnagar, Yadadri Bhuvanagiri, Warangal (Urban) and Medchal (Telangana); and Mirzapur, Bulandshahr and Hathras (Uttar Pradesh)
Bhavnagar, for instance, has generated 18.15 lakh person-days, 86 per cent more than 9.76 lakh days planned for the entire financial year in the district’s labour budget. Similarly, other districts also exceeded the planned person-days figure by a significant margin in less than four months of the 2020-21 financial year: Medchal (56.49%), Bulandshahr (56.18%), Dahod (16.32%), Karimnagar (10.20%), Gir Somnath (10.04%).
Among the other six districts, Wanaparthy in Telangana had projected 24,11,780 person-days for the whole of 2020-21 and generated 26,14,470 by July 21, shooting past the target by 8.40 per cent); Mirzapur in UP (projection 36,74,608; generation 38,34,536; overshot by 4.35%); Yadadri Bhuvanagiri (Telangana; projection 20,57,647; generation 21,42,991; overshot by 4.15%); Warangal-Urban (Telangana; projection 8,89,067; generation 9,25,244; overshot by 4.07%); Vizianagaram (Andhra Pradesh; projection 2,11,33,854; generation 2,19,81,966; overshot by 4.01%); and Hathras in UP (projection 9,50,000 person-days; generation 9,65,921; and overshot by 1.68%).
Hathras district magistrate Praveen Kumar Laxkar told The Indian Express over the phone: “Our district has a population of 19.5 lakh and we used to have an annual labour budget of about 8 lakh person-days. In normal times, that was sufficient, as a lot of people from the district used to go to work in Delhi and Noida (to work).”
But this year, he said, most of those people have returned home. “So we have seen a high demand for work under NREGA,” Laxkar said. “To meet the high demand we have focused on NREGA convergence with other schemes. We are effectively monitoring implementation of the scheme to ensure that at least one or two [types of] work remains open across 474 village panchayats of the district,” he said.