Rajasthan hopes to increase number of MGNREGA working days from 100 to 200: Deputy CM Sachin Pilot

‘Despite the hurdles posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown, the state govt increased rural employment from 62,000 to 45 lakh people within 45 days,’ he said

Rajasthan hopes to increase number of MGNREGA working days from 100 to 200: Deputy CM Sachin Pilot

Prakash Bhandari

Even while the whole nation was battling the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ashok Gehlot-led government in Rajasthan used the crisis period as an opportunity. The Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and the health minister Dr Raghu Sharma, through their deft handling of the situation, were able to combat the COVID-19 pandemic successfully, saving a large number of lives through effective testing of people.

The Gehlot government earned fulsome praise from other states as it was the first state to clamp a lockdown and this was the result of an effective handling of the administration.

The Chief Minister, from the very first day, coined a slogan: “Koi Bhi Bhooka Nahi Soyega”. The state-led from the front to rope in various social and charitable organisation to provide food to the poor, feeding several lakh persons every day by providing them two square meals a day.

The Gehlot government was instrumental in managing the migrant labourers’ crisis and also led in getting them evacuated. The large number of labourers who were on their feet going to their respective native villages in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were fed on the way by the government drawing up plans to provide them not only food but also shelter and medicines.

While Gehlot showed his administrative acumen in handling the Corona pandemic, his deputy Sachin Pilot, who is also the minister for Panchayati Raj and Rural Development, worked 24X7 to ensure employment to people through MGNREGA. By the end of May, 42 lakh persons from far flung areas of the state were given employment under MGNREGA during the Corona crisis.

Chief Minister Gehlot and Sachin Pilot jointly worked out a plan to provide employment to the starving people in the rural areas where all other medium of employment came to a standstill. Gehlot lost no time to interact with 11,000 panchayat level representatives for providing employment to the villagers under MGNREGA. In 45 days, the state government increased rural employment from 62,000 to 45 lakh.

“It was an uphill task to provide employment, but the government drew a massive plan under which from 62,000 labourers in mid-April, the number touched a staggering 42 lakhs. Yet, there is no resting on the oars and we target to provide 70 lakh employments. The job cards for the native migrant workers are being prepared. While Uttar Pradesh has 38.75 lakh, Chhattisgarh 25 lakh and Madhya Pradesh 19 lakh enrolled labourers, Rajasthan is way ahead of all the states. This shows our commitment to the poor. Under MGNREGA the skilled labourers are paid Rs 235 per day while the unskilled labourers get Rs 220. Thus we are generating Rs 80 crore per day job that runs to Rs 300 crore roughly through the 42 lakh labourers. If the Central government aggress to our proposal, the state would be able to spend Rs 500 crore per month to its MGNREGA workers,” said Sachin Pilot.

“Rajasthan has generated the largest number of man-days, totalling 30.03 crores, of paid employment under the MGNREGA scheme among all states in the country,” he added.

"Rajasthan stands on top at the national level in the creation of the largest number of man-days," he said, adding the state has also been recognised at the national level and awarded for achieving this feat.

“The state created 30.03 crore man-days of paid employment against a target of 30 crore man-days in fiscal 2019-20 under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, clocking more than 100 per cent performance,” he said.

Enacted by PM Manmohan Singh-led UPA I government in 2005, MGNREGA aims at enhancing the livelihood security of people in rural areas by guaranteeing 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

Accusing the previous BJP government of neglecting rural employment generation under MGNREGA, Pilot said the Congress government began giving importance to MGNREGA schemes ever since assuming power in the state.

"The number of families which got 100-day employment in Congress government was almost double than those getting it during the tenure of the previous BJP government," he said.

Pilot said the state government is committed to excellent execution of the MGNREGA for which Rajasthan has been recognised at the national level and has been awarded for achieving this feat.

"MGNREGA is the lifeline of rural labourers and daily-wage workers, small marginal farmers, agricultural labourers and construction workers who have been the worst affected due to the lockdown. Therefore, in order to provide financial support to the affected people in the financial year 2020-21, 100 days of employment fixed under MGNREGA should be increased to 200 days per family," Pilot said. He said in the challenging circumstances of implementation of MGNREGA due to the lockdown, it is very necessary to have sufficient funds available under the scheme.

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