Reverse migration spurs demand for MGNREGA jobs

Reverse migration spurs demand for MGNREGA jobs in state

Women migrant workers stand in a queue for food and water at Palace Grounds in Bengaluru. DH File Photo

Thanks to reverse migration caused by the lockdown, 5.5 lakh people from 2.2 lakh households in the state applied for job cards under MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) in the last two months. Only 7.28 lakh people from 3.22 lakh families had applied in the 12 months of 2019-20.

Due to the large number of applications, the number of work hours generated in the last 50 days since the relaxation of curbs was more than the employment generated during the first two and a half months of 2019-20. Between April 1 and June 18, 2019, the employment generated was 2.93 crore person days, compared to 3.33 crore, mostly since May this year.

On April 27, the state had issued only 12,030 new job cards. Since then, 2,08,719 new households have applied.

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Karnataka received most of the applications from districts that witnessed a large influx of people returning from urban areas after the lockdown was relaxed.

For instance, 33,689 families (72,699 persons) applied for job cards in Kalaburagi district, followed by 24,063 families (50,844 persons) in Bidar. Chamarajanagar and Belagavi also had around 20,000 new applications for job cards. One job card under MGNREGA has two to three beneficiaries per family on average.

The maximum number of work days was recorded in Ballari district where 37.38 lakh person days were generated, followed by Raichur with 30.7 lakh person days.

It may be noted that the highest number of job cards in the last six years was issued in 2018-19, when 5.09 lakh families (11.15 persons) applied. Almost 50% of the said number was issued in the first two and a half months of this fiscal.

L K Atheeq, Principal Secretary, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department, said that it was difficult to predict the total number of applications for job cards they could receive during the year.

On paucity of funds affecting employment generation in the last few years, he said that the Centre had increased allocation for MGNREGA for the current fiscal. According to data, MGNREGA allocation to Karnataka was increased by Rs 100 crore to Rs 1,300 crore for the financial year.