The decision on providing additional employment was taken after the monsoon deficit reached 16 per cent across the country.
New Delhi: Three months after the announcement, Centre’s plan of providing 50 days additional work under the rural employment guarantee scheme to people in drought-affected areas has come a cropper with Karnataka being the only drought-affected state where additional mandays of employment under MGNREGA were provided.
The Centre’s step had come after the Supreme Court had come down heavily on it for the lack of preparedness to tackle drought and asked it to immediately form some national policy.
In September, the Centre had decided to provide additional 50 days of work in drought-hit areas under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to provide relief to farmers in view of deficit monsoon in various parts of the country. As per the Act, 100 days of work are to be given to rural job card holders under the scheme.
According to available data, implementation of the additional employment of 50 days over and above 100 days per household has only been done in 62 talukas of 12 districts of Karnataka. Other notified drought-affected regions of the country like Bundelkhand of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and Vidharbha region of Maharashta and the states of Odisha and Andra Pradesh have not been provided any additional work under this scheme.
The decision on providing additional employment was taken after the monsoon deficit reached 16 per cent across the country, which affected agriculture and thus rural income. The move was aimed at reducing the resultant rural distress. The Centre had taken several other steps like announcing diesel subsidy for farmers to help save standing crops.
It also enhanced ceiling on seed subsidy to compensate the farmers in the drought-affected districts for the additional expenditure incurred in the re-sowing and had also announced appropriate input support measures to rejuvenate water-stressed horticulture crops in drought-hit areas.
MGNREGA was launched by the UPA with the objective of enhancing livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year, to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
Another aim of MGNREGA is to create durable assets (such as roads, canals, ponds, wells). Employment is to be provided within 5 km of an applicant’s residence, and minimum wages are to be paid.
Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, the flagship scheme has seen many ups and downs with both cuts and enhancements in budget.