In a first, over 11 crore people worked under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) during the financial year 2020-21 after being subjected to acute joblessness because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to a report by The Indian Express, 11.17 crore individuals availed of the scheme in 2020-21, which is an increase of 41.75 per cent from the 7.88 crore beneficiaries in 2019-20.
The total number of people, who availed of the scheme, had been in the range of 6.21-7.88 crore between 2013-14 and 2019-20 — a period for which comparable data is available.
The report further states that a record high of 7.54 crore rural households worked under the MGNREGS during 2020-21 — 37.59 per cent higher than 5.48 crore in 2019-20. The previous high of 5.5 crore was recorded in 2010-11.
Under the MGNREGS, every rural household, whose adult member volunteers to do unskilled manual work, is entitled to get at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year.
Launched in the 200 most backward rural districts of the country in 2006-07, the scheme was extended to an additional 130 districts during 2007-08, and to the entire country from 2008-09.
In 2020-21, the number of households that completed 100-day employment also reached an all-time high of 68.58 lakh, an increase of 68.91 per cent from 40.60 lakh in 2019-20.
The newspaper report also states that the average days of employment provided per household too went up marginally from 48.4 days in 2019-20 to 51.51 days in 2020-21. In all, 385.89 crore person days were generated in 2020-21, which is 45.43 per cent higher than 265.35 crore in 2019-20.
In the pandemic year, the expenditure on MGNREGS also reached a new high. In 2020-21, the total expenditure was Rs 110,802.05 crore — 62.31 per cent higher than Rs 68,265.97 crore in 2019-20.