Special scheme for migrants and poor shows mixed results ahead of Bihar polls
The Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan (GKRA)-- an ongoing ambitious campaign for providing work to the migrant workers and poor sections affected by Covid-19 induced lockdown--has shown mixed results in last 102 days of its implementation in the state, with a sum of Rs 8,715 crore already spent against a total of Rs 17,000 crore allotted funds and 5.08 crore man-days created under MGNREGA schemes in 32 districts.
The statistics of works completed against targets and expenditure made, as on October 2, suggest that the districts in east Bihar, central Bihar and Kosi region have done well in implementation of various works as against the districts in north Bihar, where migration rate of unemployed persons is high. In political terms, the north Bihar districts are crucial areas for both the ruling JD(U)-BJP led NDA and opposition RJD-Congress combine, which have both high stakes in the coming elections.
The north Bihar and Kosi region are also key areas for both the coalitions as they have sizeable number of extremely backward classes (EBCs), Other backward classes (OBCs) including Yadavs and Muslims, who form a big vote base in state’s 7.29 crore electors.
Factors like floods and logistics are said to be the reason behind less expenditure in some districts of north Bihar, like Darbhanga, Siwan, Saran and Muzaffarpur.
Like in Muzaffarpur, Rs 255 crore has been spent on works as against Rs 866 crore, while in Siwan, the expenditure made is Rs 78.14 crore as against Rs 237 crore allotted. Saran again has spent Rs 210 crore as against Rs 510 crore; whereas Darbhanga, a district with heavy migrant population, has spent Rs 311 crore as against the allocation of Rs 680 crore.
In Katihar, a minority dominated district with a heavy migrant population, the work done has been low with Rs 169 crore spent against the allocation of Rs 631 crore.
However, the performance of few other districts with high rates of migration like Khagaria, Kishanganj and Madhepura, in terms of work generation and expenditure on development works under the campaign, has been rather good.
The Khagaria district, from where GKRA was launched in 116 districts, spread across six states, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 20, has generated 9.14 lakh man-days under MGNREGA with Rs 309 crore spent out of targeted Rs 492 crore. In Madhepura, 11.70 lakh man-days under MGNREGA have been generated so far with an expenditure of Rs 176 crore as against targeted Rs 389 crore.
Again, the districts where migrant returnees came in big numbers, like Samastipur, the expenditure made is Rs 556 crore as against targeted Rs 905 crore. Purnea has spent Rs 332 crore as against targeted Rs 594 crore. In Kishanganj, Rs 231 crore has been spent as against allotted Rs 405 crore, while in Araria, another minority dominated district with heavy migrant population, the expenditure made is Rs 440 crore as against targeted expenditure of Rs 805 crore.
Officials said, the GKRA has been implemented with priority on earth works under MGNREGA, including digging of ponds, afforestation, construction of houses under PMAY (Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana) and rural roads, while some of the works have been done in the field of telecommunication and railways.
The GKRA, scheduled for 125 days, will end on October 25 after an extension given to the campaign, officials said. One senior officer, monitoring the Abhiyaan, said the achievement of constructions under PMAY (gramin) was much higher under the campaign with 2.10 lakh houses constructed as against the target of 1.22 lakh units in past few months.
Principal secretary of rural development department Arvind Chaudhary said the works under GKRA have been satisfactory with all concerned agencies working in tandem to provide works under various components of the programme including MGNREGA.
Asked about the low expenditure in some districts with high migrant population in north Bihar, Chaudhary said the works in some districts were affected owing to the floods, heavy rains and other logistical issues. “But by and large, all districts have carried the works with full vigour to provide employment. The man-days are expected to increase in the coming days. Of course, there is always scope for improvement,” he said.
Political observer and former director of A N Sinha Institute of Social Studies, Patna, D M Diwakar, however, opined that the low expenditure in north Bihar districts which has areas housing big migrant returnees, is an indicator of micro planning in giving more works to the unemployed poor persons affected by Covid-19 and lockdown.
“If floods are one reason for low expenditure in works in north Bihar districts, it is not a right logic. The districts affected by floods should have spent more on rehabilitation and the state administration should have done advance planning to reach out to affected persons in the deluge by providing them more works under GKRA. The campaign’s outcome would have a political impact in coming polls with those not getting benefitted likely to act differently,” he said.