`3.2 crore person-days generated in April': MGNREGA beckons hope for Telangana's laborers

Amid job losses and retrenchments, Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA), has proved to be the only hope for the labor class in Telangana.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  17 Jun 2021 6:39 AM GMT
`3.2 crore person-days generated in April: MGNREGA beckons hope for Telanganas laborers

Hyderabad: Amid job losses and retrenchments, Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA), has proved to be the only hope for the labor class in Telangana.

Telangana has about 1.2 crores workers from 54.2 lakh families registered under MGNREGA. Last year 95 percent of labor forces from scheduled castes, tribes, backward castes, and other minorities got employment under MGNREGA.

Many workers from Telangana usually migrate to the neighboring states of Maharashtra and Karnataka for work. Pandemic and sudden lockdown triggered a process of reverse migration in March and April last year. This year too the reverse migration put pressure on MGNREGA.

Data reveal that in April 2021, the employment generated under MGNREGA is higher than April 20. Around 17 lakh households received employment through MGNREGA in April 21. In April last year, 15 lakh households were employed. Similarly, 3.2 crore person-days were generated in April 2021 compared to 2.2 crore in April 2020.

A similar situation has been observed in the majority of the Gram Panchayats. Of 12,779 Gram Panchayats, 8400 have seen a growth in the person-days generated in April this year compared to the previous year. In May 2021, more than 85% of Grama Panchayats have recorded a decrease in the person-days compared to the corresponding period last year.

In the wake of the Covid-19 wave, the Commissioner of Rural Development, issued a Government Circular vide number 189382 on April 17, 2021, with guidelines for local authorities to implement MGNREGA.

While it mentioned several vital precautions and types of works to be taken up during these difficult times, there was no word about the provision for free face masks and hand sanitizers at workplaces.

There were reports that in several Gram Panchayats, works were unilaterally halted by the local authorities. As the government laid off field assistants in 2019, there are no officials to counsel the workers to take up work during the pandemic. Field Assistants are crucial in MGNREGA implementation, especially during difficult times.

A study conducted by Azim Premji University has revealed that 10 crore people have lost their jobs during the lockdown in April-May last year. The average income of a family of four has dropped to Rs 4,979 in October 2020, from Rs 5,989 in Jan 2020. The report also revealed that during this time, rural poverty has increased by 15 percent. Even today the economy is reeling from the impact of the lockdown last year. Telangana is no exception to this phenomenon.

Last year, financial schemes issued by the central and state governments during the lockdown softened the economic impact of Covid-19 on the rural citizens to some extent.

This year, no such schemes have been issued, making Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) the only fall-back option for the poorest and most vulnerable rural citizens.

The loss in income is pushing people closer to food insecurity and hunger. The report said several measures need to be taken on priority to improve MGNREGA works. Unemployment allowance must be paid to each worker as per Section 7(1) of MGNREG Act, in all the G.Ps, where works are stopped by the local governments, the report added.

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