NREGA May demand is highest for month in 8 years: 2.19 cr households
WITH THE lockdown sending lakhs of migrant labourers back to their villages, over 2.19 crore households utilised the rural job guarantee scheme in May, which is the highest for the month in the last eight years, according to official data.
An analysis of data in this category — available currently from 2013-14 on the MGNREGA portal — shows that the number of households that worked in May was 7.10 lakh higher than the 2.12 crore during the same month last year.
Sources in the Ministry of Rural Development told The Indian Express that jobs adding up to over 41 crore person-days were generated in May 2020 as against about 36.95 crore in the same month last year.
These are provisional figures, which are likely to be revised upwards as the muster rolls of last week are updated in the coming fortnight, they said.
“On an average, about 2.5 crore persons were offered jobs daily in May as against about 1.45 crore in the same month last year. For the last 10 days, on an average, over 3 crore persons were offered jobs daily,” sources said.
The numbers are expected to go up as data over the years show demand peaking usually in June, after the harvesting season. For instance, 2.15 crore households got work for the month in 2019-20, 1.93 crore in 2018-19, 2.28 crore in 2017-18 and 2.46 crore in 2016-17.
The May spike is significant as there was a dip during April 2020, and reflects the lockdown’s impact. In April, about 1.06 crore households worked under MGNREGA, which is substantially lower than the 1.70 crore in the same month last year.
At least 19 states and Union Territories, mostly destinations of returning migrants, have reported an increase in the number of households provided employment in May.
Uttar Pradesh reported the highest increase of 21.88 lakh (33.22 lakh in May 2020 against 11.34 lakh in May 2019). The state was followed by West Bengal (9.91 lakh), Chhattisgarh (7.14 lakh), Madhya Pradesh (4.97 lakh) and Odisha (3.11 lakh).
However, over a dozen other states and UTs reported a dip in May, compared to the same month last year. The sharpest fall was recorded by Telangana (18.21 lakh) followed by Tamil Nadu (13.29 lakh), Rajasthan (10.21 lakh), Assam (2.90 lakh) and Kerala (1.55 lakh).
Telangana reported only 3,884 households under the scheme in May, which is much lower than the 18.25 lakh in the month last year.
In all, 2.47 crore households have been provided work so far under MGNREGA during 2020-21. During 2019-20, 5.48 crore households worked under the scheme, which is the highest since 2010-11 (5.5 crore).
In the last financial year, the number of individuals who worked under the scheme soared to 7.89 crore, which is the highest since 2012-13 (7.97 crore).