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The Importance of MGNREGS – Editorials


The national blockade, which was imposed to control the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), caused an exodus of migrant workers from their host states to their home states. Many of them have no safety net, such as farmland or savings to overcome this difficult patch. This has led to a large increase in demand from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee System (MGNREGS). According to The Indian ExpressNearly 22 million households used the demand-driven scheme in May, the highest of the month in the past eight years. At least 19 states and Union territories have reported an increase in the number of households that provided employment in May. Unsurprisingly, the main migrant-sending states experienced the largest increase in demand in the month, with Uttar Pradesh at the top, followed by West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha.

The Center did well to escalate the program allocation by Rs 40,000 crore, bringing the total allocation under the scheme to Rs 1.01,500 crore. The return of migrant workers and the popularity of the scheme is probably an opportune time for the government to modify MGNREGS, as a column in this newspaper suggested. What if the government decided to allow the employment of MGNREGS workers in private agricultural activities? This will lead to a significant reduction in the cost of cultivation by alleviating or even eradicating the cost of hired labor, and will also improve its ability to employ more people, in addition to the current objective of using it as a mechanism to prevent economic problems and build rural assets

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