Employment Guarantee Scheme fails to pick up in Maharashtra

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New Delhi, Sept 26 (UNI) Despite the Centre sanctioning a hefty relief for Maharashtra in view of the agricultural crisis resulting in farmers' suicides, the rural labourers in the state have not got the required succour even from National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP), designed to provide them minimum employment of 100 days a year.

About 94 per cent of the total registered labourers in rural areas are yet to get 'job cards' under the NREGP ; one-third of them have not got an employment at all and rest of them got jobs ranging from 10 to 30 days since it came into force last year, according to a study conducted last week.

The NREGP, launched with much fanfare by the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from a poverty-ridden village in Andhra Pradesh on February 2, 2006 to provide job to at least one member of a family in 200 backward districts of the country, is yet to pick up in the state. During this financial year, the NREGP was extended to 330 districts.

The study, conducted in Wardha district by students of Media and Communication Department of Mahatama Gandhi Central Hindi University, covered a sample survey of 15 villages with a population of 30,508 which have 4,404 labourers (both males and female) eligible to be covered under the Programme, but discovered only 11.73 per cent of the total eligible labourers have been registered under NREGP in these villages.

The students' team, working under the guidance of Department head Dharvesh Katheria and eminent journalist Anil Chamdria, interviewed 192 labourers from villages including Raajani, Launi, Bhidi, Vaasi, Badona, Aamla, Mahogaam, Tiroda and Maangrul of eight tehsils of the district, and found four different rates of daily wages -- Rs 66, 68, 70 and 72 -- are prevaling in the district which has already received a sum of around Rs four crore under the Programme. Of this, Rs 1,30,93,092 have already been alloted under the first phase for the purpose.

The entire employment under NREGP was for planting trees at public places. However, according to the Study, lumpsum payment for the work done by a labourer is made after 75 days. And if the planted saplings failed to grow, the workers were denied the payment, the study said, noting that in four villages- Dharamneri, Dingdoh, Launbi and Bhidi-80 per cent of plants withered even as funds were earmarked for maintenance of the planted saplings.

UNI

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