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Drought pushes up demand for MGNREGS work

The rural job scheme has helped cushion the impact of drought while officials said that by providing employment, it has managed to reduce migration to an extent.
Last Updated : 04 November 2023, 00:15 IST

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Kalaburagi: People in rural Karnataka are queueing up for work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) as more than 200 taluks are reeling under drought.

The rural job scheme has helped cushion the impact of drought while officials said that by providing employment, it has managed to reduce migration to an extent.

Karnataka has already reached around 10-crore person days against the total target of 13 crore assigned to the state this financial year, driven by the huge demand in several districts of North Karnataka, which have surpassed the target in generating person days. 

This has prompted the state government to seek an increase in allocation (from 13 crore to 18 crore person days) to meet the demand.

Data compiled by the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department has revealed that 9.4 crore (95.44%) person days have been generated in the last seven months against 8.7 crore (88.82%) generated during the corresponding period last year. This shows an increase of person days by around 70 lakh.

Gadag district stood on top, generating 32.80 lakh person days against the target of 24.19 lakh till October, the highest among the 31 districts in the state. This means the district is using up the working days meant for the remaining months of the financial year.

Ballari, Koppal, Raichur, Vijayanagara, Bagalkot and Chitradurga achieved 100% performance, reaching the target of person days assigned.

Kodagu and Dakshina Kannada stood last and there was poor response to the scheme in Bengaluru, which achieved 62.33% of the target.

Sadashiva Hydra, a daily-wage labourer from Honnakiranagi in Kalaburagi taluk, who has been working under the MGNREGS, said more than 850 landless labourers and marginal farmers from the village are employed under the scheme.

Stressing the need to increase the number of days per family from 100 to 150, he adds that jobs should be given to farmers to undertake work in their own farm land.

“Farm labourers are finding it difficult to get jobs in surrounding villages as most of the people are using machinery on their fields. Therefore, they are managing to run their family using the wage of Rs 316 per day paid to them under the scheme. More people in the village are opting to work here instead of migrating in search of employment,” he said. 

Raichur Zilla Panchayat (ZP) MGNREGS project director Prakash said the “scheme has reduced migration to a great extent”.

“But we have pending dues of Rs 2.3 crore to be paid to workers and most of them have exhausted their quota of 100 days. The government should provide 50 more days of work to each household in the wake of drought.”

According to Raichur ZP CEO Pandve Rahul Tukaram, the demand for MGNREGS work will increase further from December, when there will be little to no agricultural activity. 

Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister Priyank Kharge pointed out that the Centre has to pay Rs 720 crore in outstanding wages to Karnataka under the scheme.

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Published 04 November 2023, 00:15 IST

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