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Bihar: Govt seeks 10cr additional mandays under MGNREGA for job creation

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The Bihar government on Friday decided to seek allotment of 10crore additional mandays from the existing 15crore annual target for this fiscal year in order to provide jobs to rural unskilled workers.

The state has already achieved a high generation of jobs under centrally sponsored rural job guarantee scheme Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 (MGNREGA).

“We will be sending a proposal to the Centre for increase in allotment of mandays under MGNREGA soon. We want the revised target to be 25crore mandays,”said Rahul Kumar, MNREGA commissioner and CEO, Jeevika.

He said the decision of increasing the allotment was taken as the job creation has already crossed 13crore till date (from April to July end) against annual target of 15crore for this fiscal.

Also Read:Nuh: 7 dead receive wages under MGNREGA for a year, nine booked

“We hope to achieve the 15crore mandays target in next one month or so. We do need higher allotments to generate work,” Kumar added.

A total of 38.19lakh families have been given work under the scheme in the last four months.

Bihar has a total of 2.24crore job card holders (those eligible to demand work) of which 1.09crore are active workers under the scheme, which is supported by the Centre and a defined share is given by the state government.

Incidentally, officials in the rural development department (RDD) believe rural unemployment or reverse migration (return of migrant labourers witnessed during Covid pandemic from various states) are not the main factors behind the high rate of job creation in this fiscal year and rather attribute the increase in mandays to effective implementation of the scheme at the panchayat level this fiscal.

“It would not be correct to say that migrants who returned to Bihar during Covid pandemic have stayed put and propelled the demand for jobs under MGNREGA this year. Had it been so, we could have recorded creation of more mandays than targeted in last fiscal year 21-22. But it was not the case as only 18crore mandays were created against target of 20crore last year,” said a senior officer, involved in implementation of MGNREGA in Bihar.

In the same context, he said the return of migrants from various states in mid-May in 2020 due to Covid induced lockdown and economic distress had propelled the demand for work under the centrally sponsored job scheme.

“In 2020-21, around 22crore mandays were created, a record of sorts as it was mostly demand driven following return of migrants in huge numbers,” the official added.”

RDD officials said the department this year had identified panchayats performing poorly in implementation of the scheme and tasked them with increasing job creation, paving way for grant of more jobs to rural unskilled workers from April to July.”

This year, we have focused on increasing the job creation per panchayat varying from 75 to 133 persons and also put focus on completion of work under Jal Jeevan Hariyali programme for conservation of water bodies and other works,” said the MGNREGA commissioner.

Significantly, the MGNREGA commissioner said the government would carry plantation and some earth work as per norms in monsoon season owing to the deficient rains and long dry spell, which in many parts of the state has created drought-like situation.

“The higher allotment of mandays is provisioned for meeting the work demand in view of state witnessing deficient rains,” Kumar said.

Though there has been a rise in job creation under MGNREGA in Bihar this year, the state government has a pending bill of around 1,300crore under wages for workers from the Centre.

Sources said the government did not receive any funds under wages from June first week till mid-week of July and only got around 500 crore in last week of July.

“We have pending dues under wages from the Centre, a reason why work under MGNREGA has got affected in July. There were little funds to pay workers. Even under material head of the scheme, we have pending dues of around 1,000crore,” said an official in RDD.

The delay in the release of funds for wages from the Centre had affected work under the job scheme in last fiscal year too.

The opposition RJD and left parties have also flayed the state government in recent weeks over the non-timely payment of wages to NREGA workers.


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