Rural jobs scheme: Tripura makes it 7-in-a-row on top

Agartala, Dec 22 (IANS) Left-ruled Tripura retained its top position for the seventh consecutive year in providing work under the rural jobs scheme – 68 days per household in fiscal 2015-16 so far against the national average of 36 days and can take this to 92 if the full central allocation is disbursed, a minister said.

“Tripura has been providing the highest average jobs for the past seven years under the MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act),” Rural Development and Forest Minister Naresh Jamatia told IANS, quoting a report of the union rural development ministry.

“Tripura has provided 68 days of work per household so far in the ongoing financial year against the national average of 36 persondays. If we got the full central allocation of Rs.1,500 crore, we would achieve 92 persondays at the end of the fiscal in March,” added Jamatia, a veteran tribal leader.

The MGNREGA was introduced in February 2006 by the then Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.

The scheme mandates 100 days of work in a financial year to at least one member of each rural household in the states – but this has never been acheived in any state. The scheme aims to generate rural assets and create rural infrastructure like roads.

According to the report of the rural development ministry, Maharashtra came second with 47 persondays per household, followed by Tamil Nadu with 44 persondays.

According to the central government performance report on the MGNREGA, of the 250,472 panchayats across the country, around 40,000 did not provide any job to any worker.

These 40,000 panchayats are mostly in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

As per the facts available with the union rural development ministry, which operates the scheme, the average days of employment provided per household in 2014-15 were only 40.17, significantly lower than in 2013-14 when the figure was 46.

Last year was the scheme’s worst performance – 40.07 days – and 2009-10 was the best performance year – 54 days – in the 10 years since the scheme was introduced.

The average days of employment provided per household has, although always low, remained above the 40-mark. The figure was 43, 42, 48, 54, 47, 43, 46 in 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 respectively.

Of the total jobs created across the country, 47.46 percent males and 52.54 percent females worked under the scheme.

Various political parties, including the Communist Party of India-Marxist, has been demanding that the persondays be increased from 100 to 150 in a year.

The Tripura minister said the central government, at a very short notice from April 1, introduced the Public Financial Management System (PFMS) for the monetary chain – from the central and state governments allocating funds for payment to labourers – revoking the previous e-FMS (Electronic Fund Management System).

“Though both the systems are transparent, hassle- and error-free and paperless besides eliminating administrative delays, we support the new system too. The PFMS was introduced with less than a week’s notice, creating problems in some blocks to disburse the wage payments to the workers,” Jamatia said.

Tripura is providing wages to the MGNREGA workers at their doorstep through business correspondents engaged by various nationalised and regional rural banks, he said.

Tripura rural development department joint secretary T.K. Debnath said that besides providing rural jobs, the MGNREGA has created rural assets that include ponds, irrigation facilities, household latrines, drinking water sources, rural road connectivity, livestock promotion, pisciculture, watershed management and afforestation – thus securing livelihood activities.

“The officials of the central government, during their visits to Odisha to review the performance of MGNREGA, highly appreciated the achievements of the scheme in this state,” Debnath told IANS.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at <>)

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