Demand For Work Under MGNREGA Has ‘Sharply’ Increased: Sources
A labourer uses a hammer to break bricks at the construction site of a house in Wish Town in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)  

Demand For Work Under MGNREGA Has ‘Sharply’ Increased: Sources

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Demand for work under the MGNREGA has more than doubled in this fiscal, so far, due to the Covid-19 lockdown and about 42% of the total allocation of Rs 1.01 lakh crore for the employment scheme has already been distributed among states, sources said on Tuesday.

The way demand for work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Act has "sharply" increased this year, it seems a sizeable amount will be required to meet demand, they said.

To provide relief to migrant workers who returned to their villages from across the country during the lockdown, the Centre has expanded the ambit work offered under the scheme. It now includes toilet construction and dragon fruit plantation, sources in the government said.

They said only the labour cost for construction of toilets, part of the Swachh Bharat Mission, will be paid under the MGNREGA.

Besides this, dragon fruit plantation, which is mostly done in northeastern states, has also been included in the list of works, the sources said

Officials in the Rural Development Ministry said the ambit of work has been expanded to provide as many opportunities as possible to engage migrant workers who have returned to their native states.

Sources in the ministry also suggested that additional funds might be required for the MGNREGA as the demand for work under it has more than doubled compared to last year.

Out of the Rs 1.01 lakh crore total allocation for the employment guarantee scheme, which also includes the Rs 40,000 crore allocated under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, Rs 43,000 crore has already been allocated to states, they said.

If the existing rate of rise in demand for work remains, a substantial amount will be required for the implementation of the MGNREGA in the existing financial year, sources said.

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