To kickstart the rural economy in both farm and non-farm sectors, the central government provided a series of relaxations in the second phase of nationwide lockout. However, experts said that unless implementation is properly monitored at the ground level, a lot cannot be easy.
In the case of MGNREGA, the central government has implemented strict social remoteness norms, allowing water conservation and irrigation activities, with all forms of work being given priority. This is important in view of the upcoming monsoon season.
MGNREGA is one of the major sources of rural employment for landless laborers, which provides employment to about 50-60 million families every year in rural India.
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The Center has given permission to implement the existing Central and State Government schemes on irrigation and water conservation with MNREGA, creating more employment opportunities in rural areas, which has led to a huge rush of migrants from urban India in the last few weeks Is watching
According to some estimates, approximately 500,000–600,000 urban migrants have been moved to rural areas, a large number of them on foot following the Kovid-19 lockdown.
In addition, the MHA guidelines have allowed industrial activity in rural areas (which are falling outside the municipal limits) with construction and brick kilns working.
The MSMEs, among other things, also allowed the construction of rural roads, buildings and other activities under the revised set of rests.
However, experts said a lot would depend on how states react to it because in the case of schemes like MNREGA, it is states that have to take a lot of initiative.
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Furthermore, when the workers themselves shut down and people are afraid to move out of their homes, it should be seen how many workers actually turn to work under the MNREGA.
“People who work will be really desperate for work, because under normal circumstances no one would like to venture,” said an economist and faculty member at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) -Ahmedabad.
He said in many cases, even if the work has been opened, the entire exercise of allowing workers to start MNREGA work is not paid for months, ignoring it.
“It has also been observed that how many households actually get 100 days of work in a year, as the average employment is less at around 48-49 days of work,” Khera said.
He said that to get the promised 2000 rupees per month as per the new MGNREGA wages for 2020-21 of 20-21.27, a worker has to work for a minimum of 10 days a month, while till now 2020-21 The average day employment in the MNREGA home is around 7.7 days, the lowest in many years.
In 2020-21, the approved labor budget for the scheme is 280.76 crores, which is 1.44 per cent higher than in 2019-20, but many experts say that the approved labor budget is a much lower version demanded by the states is. So far in April, only 0.18 crore works have been created under MNREGA alone.
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For 2020-21, the central government has set a budget of Rs 60,000 crore under the MGNREGA, which is about 13 percent lower than the revised estimate of 2019-20.
It remains to be seen how states initiate rural road construction works which are followed by easing of norms. The central government has allocated Rs 19,000 crore for the rural roads program in 2020-21.
Mahendra Dev, director of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, said, “All these rests are good and should help move the rural non-agricultural economy forward, but it remains to be seen how much actually applies to the land.”
He said that the availability of labor has been one of the major grievances of the rural sector and the current set of relaxation is largely to address MNREGA labor, especially for irrigation and water conservation schemes of the Central and State Government.
The non-agricultural sector in rural India contributed a large proportion of income to agricultural households according to the 2016-17 NABARD Financial Inclusion Survey.