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Returning migrants, stagnation in rural economy 'increased' NREGA demand

Counterview Desk

The second report of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) implementation tracker by the People's Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), a group of activists, academics and members of peoples' organizations, has found 11 percent more persondays of employment was generated in the first quarter of FY 2020-21 (April-July) compared to the projected labour budget in this period.
Pointing out that about 17 percent demand for NREGA remained unmet during the period, NREGA tracker, which claims to be an attempt to monitor the performance of NREGA by making some key metrics available to everybody in an “accessible manner”, says, more than 12 percent unmet demand for employment in all the districts was under the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan (GKRA).

Excerpts:

Forty eight percent of the total NREGA budget (revised) for 2020-21 has already been spent in the first 4 months

Table 1 shows the status of fund availability in select states. The net balance is the difference between the total allotted funds and total expenditure including payment dues. Though there has been an increase in allocation of funds to the states by Rs.12,000 crores between 02 July 2020 and 03 August 2020, the net balance of funds available with the states has fallen from 16.35 percent to 11.92 percent in this period. Odisha has a negative balance of over 3 percent.
States like Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have less than 5 percent of their allocated funds left. This is at a time when there is an unmet demand for employment of more than 27 percent and 14 percent in Uttar Pradesh and Andhra respectively. Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Telangana have a balance of less than 10 percent.

Forty three percent payments transactions for the month of July are pending from the Central government

Table 2 shows that 42.77 percent of the total transactions and 39.79 percent of the total payments are pending for the month of July. Over 3 crore transactions are pending for response upto July. 16.47 percent of the total transactions and 15.56 percent of the total payments are pending for the months up to July.

38 Lakh new job cards made since April 2020

Returning migrants and the stagnation in the rural economy has increased demand for NREGA employment and new households are registering for job cards and work. 14.68 lakh new job cards were issued in Uttar Pradesh alone which is an 8.64 percent jump from previous year.
In Telangana there has been a 4.56 percent fall in the number of new job cards issued this year compared to previous year. Table 3 shows new job cards issued from April 1 to July 31, 2020 in select states and the percentage change in the new job cards issued this year compared to previous year.

4.17 lakh households have completed 100 days of work 

2.26 lakh households had completed 100 days of work till July 2, 2020. It has almost doubled in just one month. However, this is only 0.78 percent of those who have been employed under NREGA this year. The scale of households completing 100 days of employment is much higher in states like Andhra Pradesh (1.90 lakh), and Chhattisgarh (70,000).
Table 4 shows the number of households that are about to complete their 100 days of employment. Roughly, 25 lakh households have completed more than 70 days of work till August 2. This is a testament to NREGA's continued importance and underscores the need to increase NREGA entitlement to at least 200 days per household.

17 percent unmet demand

1.52 crore people who demanded work have not been provided employment. Unmet demand on July 2 was 22 percent. This has decreased to 17 percent as on August 3. Table 5 shows that there has been improvement in each of the select states (except Madhya Pradesh) between July 10 and August 3 to meet the unmet demand for work.


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