Demand for work rose by 38.79 percent as 22.49 crore people sought work under MGNREGA this year until September 12
Demand for work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) increased nearly 40 percent in the current fiscal year owing to the mass migration of migrant workers to rural India.
Responding to a question in the Lok Sabha, Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said demand for work rose by 38.79 percent as 22.49 crore people sought work under the scheme this year until September 12, as compared to 16.2 crore last year in the same period.
"The number of beneficiaries provided employment under MGNREGA during the current FY21 as on September 12, 2020, is 8.29 crore," he said in a statement.
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More than 1.04 crore migrant workers across the country returned to their home states amid the coronavirus pandemic-led livelihood crisis. Of all the migrant workers who returned home, 75 percent hailed from five states - Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
The number of households seeking employment under MGNREGA also went up by 38.73 percent this fiscal year. As per the data, 8.9 crore households sought work under the scheme in the April-July period of FY20, which rose to 12.47 crore households in the same period this fiscal year.
There is a budgetary allocation of Rs 61,500 crore during FY21 under MGNREGA and Rs 60,599 crore has been released so far, the statement said.
Announcing the last tranche of the Rs 20 lakh crore economic package in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in May increased the allocation for MGNREGS by Rs 40,000 crore over and above the budgetary allocation of Rs 61,500 crore.
"Considering that the monsoon is approaching and migrant workers are heading home because of the coronavirus-induced lockdown, the additional allocation will ensure jobs for them in rural areas," Sitharaman had said.
Additionally, wages for manual workers under the scheme were also increased from Rs 182 to Rs 202 per day.
When asked if the government has any plan to allow employment for workers under MGNREGA in private agricultural activities, Tomar said no such plan is under works.
Replying to a separate question, Tomar also said the ministry is not running out of funds. "MGNREGA is a demand-driven scheme and the government arranges for the necessary funds as per need," he said.
The mandate of MGNREGA is to assure up to 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adult member volunteers to do unskilled manual work.