Study puts MGNREGS in Punjab under scanner -Rajeev Khanna

-Down to Earth

The employment scheme generated 20.23 average working days in the state against the mandated 100 days, according to a Punjabi University report

A high incidence of illiteracy, low levels of education, a major lack of awareness and dependence on Panchayat members and sarpanches have led the much-publicised Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to fail in Punjab. The scheme generated only 20.23 average days' employment a year in the largely agrarian state, against the mandated 100 days, according to a recent study.

Only 1.64 per cent beneficiary households got the mandated 100-day employment; 21.29 per cent got no work, claimed the study Empirical Analysis of Implementation of MGREGS Across Different Social Groups in Punjab by Punjabi University, Patiala. The study has been documented in the Indian Journal of Economics and Development.

“This study, sponsored by University Grants Commission (UGC), is the first broad-based study on MGNREGS, conducted in 65 villages of all 22 districts of Punjab,” said Gian Singh, one of the researchers and an expert in economy. While the field work was carried out in 2012-13, the study is relevant even today because the days of employment are still almost the same, he claimed.

“The implementation machinery is working inefficiently and the Gram Sabhas are held only in papers,” he said.

Despite their being entitled to receive work under the scheme, the poor households always remained at the mercy of Panchayat members, according to the study. “Most of the people seeking work under the scheme were illiterate and did not know much about their rights under the scheme. They were generally exploited by Panchayat members,” read the study.

Politics has a big role to play in decision making in the state. “Sometimes the genuine issues lose their significance in petty politics of Panchayat members and MGNREGS is no exception. In such an atmosphere, the scheme cannot be implemented effectively and vigorously,” highlighted the study.

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Down to Earth, 9 July, 2019,

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