The Centre’s rural job scheme proved crucial in the dry months of April-June this year, underlining its importance as a source of alternate income during distress for rural India.
The 12 drought-hit states generated 79% of the total work done under the MGNREGA schemes this financial year. The biggest share of those jobs was done between April and June, when large parts of the country reeled under rainless heat.
Question marks were raised over the future of the MGNREGA when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power. A section of the ruling party was critical about the assured job plan — enacted during the UPA’s regime — and the scheme even faced budget cuts. But things have changed.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeatedly instructed us to ensure timely wage payments and creation of long-term assets in the job scheme. More than 75% workers get payment on time this year, so in the summer, people could fall back on MGNREGA to earn money,” said a senior rural development official.
|Top 5 states in generating work|
|All figures in crore|
Tamil Nadu generated most persondays under MGNREGA this financial year — 19.11 crore — followed by Rajasthan (15.60 crore persondays).
The Centre’s focus on generating jobs in summer was such that the rural development ministry had to seek additional money for MGNREGA in the supplementary demands for grants in the monsoon session of Parliament.
When the rains came, there was a drastic fall in MGNREGA work.
MGNREGA in 2016:
• Total persondays generated from April to August: 12193.13
• Persondays in April-June: 9477.17
• Persondays in July-August: 2715.96
• 78% of total persondays generated in summer (April to June)