More than 3.3 lakh new job cards have been issued this year in Andhra Pradesh under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme (MGNREGA), a recent report has revealed. The report, which looks at the implementation of the MGNREGA scheme during the six-month period from April to September 2020, shows that the number of job cards issued this year alone comprises 5% of the total job cards issued in the state (67 lakh) since the scheme was first implemented in 2005.
Published by LibTech India, a collective of engineers, social workers and social scientists working on improving public service delivery, the report gives an insight into the implementation of the MGNREGA scheme since the nationwide lockdown was put in place in March 2020. While fears of COVID-19 infection had instilled fear among workers and officials in the beginning of this period, and compensation and wages initially delayed, these six months eventually saw a much higher number of person days ( (the total number of days that employment was provided for all registered workers combined), compared to the number of person days during the same period last year, according to the report.
Days of Employment
In Andhra Pradesh, a total of 67 lakh families, or 1.22 crore workers, are registered under the MGNREGA scheme. Among the active workers, 24.37% are SC and 8.92% are ST. More than half of the registered workers are women (51.1%), the report said. For the six-month period under consideration, the scheme had provided a total 20.73 crore days of employment — a 35% increase from last year’s number (15.35 crore person days) for the same period. In 2018, the window saw 17.8 crore person days.
More than 3 lakh of the registered families have already completed the 100 days of work guaranteed under the scheme. Demands have been made from several quarters to raise the number of days of guaranteed employment to 150 or 200, so that the registered families can continue to find work until next year. All active working families across the state have completed a minimum of 44 days of work during this period, the report said.
The district-wise data showed that the average number of workdays completed by registered households was highest in Vizianagaram (60 days), closely followed by Anantapur and Visakhapatnam (57 days each). The lowest average workdays completed per family was recorded in Guntur (29).
While 661 mandals in the state are part of the scheme, 580 of these mandals have provided more work days this year than last year, during the period under consideration. Notably, among the 10 mandals that provided maximum days of work in total, four mandals — Seethampeta, Parvatipuram, Koyyuru, Ananthagiri — are from ITDA (Integrated Tribal Development Agency) areas. The bottom 10 mandals were mainly located in suburban areas, the report said.
Wage payment issues
As indicated by the rise in the number of registered workers and the high number of person days completed, the MGNREGA scheme has been a major income source for rural households in the state during the pandemic. The Union government has released funds worth a total of Rs 66,248.89 crore towards MGNREGA as of October 20, 2020, and more than 10% of these funds went to Andhra Pradesh alone, in a trend that has continued for the past three years, the report said.
The active working households in the state have received a total of Rs 4861 crore as wages for their work during this period. However, wages worth Rs 10.52 crore are pending payment due to various technical issues, the report said.