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More Households Accessed NREGA in June 2023 Than Previous Year, Weak Monsoon the Likely Reason

The total number of households was 3.04 crore, the highest monthly number in the previous three years.
With Demand for MGNREGA Work Increasing in Sept 2022, Activists Warn About Rural Distress

Image Courtesy: PTI

The number of households accessing employment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) increased by 10% in June 2023 compared to last June.

The total number of households was 3.04 crore, the highest monthly number in the previous three years. The monthly figures for households availing jobs under MGNREGS crossed three crores only thrice since 2014. The other two times were in May 2020 and June 2020, a period of national lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

MGNREGS, a scheme launched by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2005, guarantee 100 days of employment annually to every rural household. The scheme particularly helped the rural poor during the COVID-19 pandemic when many migrant labourers returned to their villages after the Central government imposed lockdown across the country.

Experts have linked the increase in demand for jobs to a weak monsoon which affected Kharif crops.

"Due to uneven rainfall distribution in June, sowing got delayed, and hence people might have opted for MGNREGS," Devendra Kumar Pant, chief economist at India Ratings, told The Indian Express.

Pant further said that the number would decrease in July when the rainfall deviation is likely to go down.

Pronab Sen, former chief statistician of India, linked the jump to increased rural employment due to COVID-19 and the "timely release of funds by Centre to states."

As per the data on the MGNREGS dashboard, the number of beneficiaries of the scheme has been increasing since April 2023. While 2.03 crore families availed of the scheme in April 2023, it increased to 2.86 crore in May 2023.

In the figures for June 2023, the number of beneficiaries was highest in Tamil Nadu at 51.80 lakh families (17%), followed by Andhra Pradesh (33.14 lakh), Rajasthan (32.68 lakh), Uttar Pradesh (32.10 lakh), and Bihar (22.36 lakh).

Only 962 families accessed the scheme in West Bengal, the state where the MGNREGS work has been halted due to the suspension of funds by the Centre.

"In all, 4.15 crore families availed MG-NREGS across the country till July 16 in 2022-23. The government has allocated Rs 60,000 crore for NREGS in Budget 2023-24, of which almost two-thirds or Rs 39,659.99 crore has been spent till July 16, according to data available on the MGNREGS dashboard," The Indian Express reported.

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