Skip to main content

Lockdown checkup: PDS improves, but MGNREGA work 'missing' in many villages

By Our Representative 
The second round of the Lockdown Checkup survey, conducted by members of the Right to Food Campaign Jharkhand  has found that while the public distribution system (PDS) has improved in the state, work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is still missing in many villages.
The survey took place during the 2nd and 3rd week of May 2020, and focused on the status of essential services like ration shops,  MGNREGA, dal-bhat kendras, community kitchens, banks, etc.
Based on telephonic reports of observers from 46 blocks in 22 districts (50 blocks in 19 districts for Round 1, in the first week of April), while comparing the two rounds, the survey results show that PDS and dal-bhat kendras have improved in April and in most blocks (42 out of 46), PDS cardholders received double rations in April.
In 40 out of 46 blocks, cardholders have started getting free ration in the month of May: 10 kg per person in 35 blocks and 5 kg per person in another five blocks, the survey found, adding, however, that even though all cardholders are to receive 2 kg of free dal for April-May, it has not been distributed in 35 out of the 46 blocks.
Also, in all the remaining blocks barring one, cardholders received only 1 kg dal instead of 2 kg. Also, the problem of ‘katauti’ i.e. giving less than entitled quantity continued unabated.
The survey said, the Mukhyamantri dal-bhat kendras are now active in a larger number of blocks, compared with Round 1. But the utilisation of dal-bhat kendras remains very low, because of the lockdown. Only 16 out of 45 kendras have been publicised by the local administration. Some kendras in Ranchi are delivering food to nearby slums, with good effect. But among the surveyed blocks, only 8 out of 46 have adopted mobile food delivery.
As for 'Didi kitchens', the survey said, these are running in gram panchayats (of block observers) of 43 out of 46 surveyed blocks. In most cases, however, the kitchen is not accessible to needy people from all the villages in the gram panchayat (GP): only those who reside in nearby tolas or villages are able to reach the kitchen.
In 37 out of 46 blocks, there were long queues and overcrowding outside banks. People had to queue for hours, sometimes standing in the sun
At the same time, the survey noted, unemployment is a significant problem today in rural areas and many workers are interested in MGNREGA work. Thus, only 29 out of 46 observers reported that MGNREGA work had started in their village.
In many villages, small works like TCB (trench cum bunds) have opened which hardly create adequate work for all workers. Many migrant workers do not have job cards and many others who have job cards are unable to get work because of the complexity of the application process. The system is poorly prepared for a big expansion of MGNREGA employment. For instance, many blocks do not even have programme officer at block level.
The survey further found that in 37 out of 46 blocks, there are long queues and overcrowding outside the banks. People have to queue for hours, sometimes standing in the sun. Specially abled and older people are facing many difficulties in withdrawing money.
In 41 out of 46 blocks, Pragya Kendras or Customer Service Centres are active in the neighbourhood of the observer, but at least 13 of these centres face technical problems such as: (1) Link failure, (2) Fingerprint authentication failure, (3) Lack of money.
In some blocks, people have been asked to come again the next day to get cash even after biometric verification. In such a situation, it will also be challenging for MGNREGA workers to withdraw wages from their bank account.
“Right now it is most important to ensure food and work for everyone in rural areas. Public distribution system should be universalised in rural areas. Under the MGNREGA, large labour-intensive public works should be opened in all the village and weekly cash payments should be made”, a Right to Food Campaign Jharkhand note commented.

Comments

TRENDING

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.

Oxfam on WB project: ICT 'ineffective', privatised learning to worsen gender divide

By Rajiv Shah 
A top multinational NGO, with presence in several developed and developing countries, has taken strong exception to the World Bank part-funding Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project in six Indian states – Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha – for its emphasis on information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled approaches for teacher development, student assessment and digital platform for early childhood education.