Resource centre on India's rural distress

MGNREGA softens the blow -Sanjeev Singh Bariana

-The Tribune

The job guarantee scheme kept the rural sector afloat during the pandemic-induced lockdown. The number of people employed under MGNREGA in Punjab has gone up considerably.

AMID the Covid crisis, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has sustained thousands of villagers who had been rendered jobless across Punjab. These also include the youth who returned to villages after they lost their jobs in towns and cities.

After the lockdown was first imposed in March-end, the rural sector in the state rose to the challenge of harvesting wheat despite many restrictions, even as vegetable/fruit growers, dairy and poultry farmers faced a tough time. The government handled 3,700 procurement points and created 1,100 new ones this time to ensure social distancing.

The Department of Rural Development and Panchayats has made effective use of the MGNREGA scheme to bail out unemployed people, particularly in villages.

The average number of working days under MGNREGA was 31 in Punjab in the financial year 2019-20. The work is said to be progressing even better this financial year. The average was less than 20 about a couple of years ago.

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