HYDERABAD: Lakhs of MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) workers were hit by lockdown, which was imposed from May 12 in the state. As per the analysis report released by LibTech India, which comprises a team of engineers, social scientists and social workers, the number of working days has drastically dropped since the lockdown.
“We hardly worked for a week in the month of May due to the second wave of Covid-19 cases and the consequent lockdown in the state," says T Ratnappa, an MGNREGA worker from Narayanpet district in Telangana. Without work, Ratnappa said his family had to go through a lot of struggle to make their ends meet and to get their minimum essential needs fulfilled like rice and dal.
As per the report, compared to last year, only 2.6 crore person days were generated in May 2021-22, which is way less than the 6 crore person days generated in May, 2020-21. Similarly, the number of households employed also have reduced from 10 lakhs in May, 2020-21 to 4.3 lakhs in May, 2021-22.
And May is one of the peak months for MGNREGA workers to have their high number of working days, as the following months fall under the rainy season. Many workers from Telangana also usually migrate to neighbouring states like Maharashtra and Karnataka in search of work during these months.
Speaking to this newspaper, Chakradhar Buddha, programme director, LibTech India said, "As per the data, Telangana has about 1.2 crores workers from 54.2 lakh families registered under MGNREGA scheme. Of which 95% of all the employment was generated for scheduled castes, tribes, backward castes and other minorities last year."
He further added that the reverse migration which was triggered last year by the unprecedented events like the pandemic, sudden lockdown and curfews was repeated this year. "In the last two months of April and May, we found that this year, the number of person days generated has fallen from 8.27 crores to 5.85 crores."
Although the government directed to continue MGNREGA works and issued guidelines, the local authorities completely halted the works, added the report. The report further stated that loss of income pushed several poor families to insecurity and hunger.
Meanwhile, with the loss of employment and the consequent pay loss, Chakradhar Buddha, on behalf of the LibTech organisation demanded to give unemployment allowance as per the Section 7 (1) of MGNREG Act and full wages to the workers who contracted Covid-19 in their work days. It was also demanded to reinstate the field assistants and also to set up a special helpline.