Finance minister Piyush Goyal in his Interim budget speech on Friday announced that the government has allocated Rs 60,000 crore for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) for fiscal 2020. This is higher than the Rs 55,000 crore earmarked in the Union Budget for fiscal 2019.
However, in Maharashtra, data tells a different story. The progress of rural employment scheme has been slow. In Marathwada's Parbhani district, a three-day protest demanding jobs was held last week, in one of the worst drought affected areas.
"In our Parbhani district, nobody is getting loans or work through MGNERGA. And farmers are distressed. We have water scarcity in Marathwada, everywhere," a farmer, Manik Kadam, told NDTV.
On Tuesday, the Maharashtra government received Rs 4,700 crore in drought relief from the centre after it demanded Rs 7,000 crore.
But rural employment or MGNREGA data shows that the state hasn't been providing enough jobs under the scheme.
Data till December shows only a quarter of the 2.15 crore people registered for MGNREGA have been actively employed in the state, whereas the average days of employment per household has fallen from almost 49 days to 41 days. Also, the total number of households completing 100 days of guarantee employments has fallen drastically by almost 1.5 lakh.
The government says it will now check just how serious the data is. "If the numbers are falling because people are getting work, then it is not serious, but if it's because of government's apathy, if the numbers are falling then we will look into the matter," state Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar told NDTV.
But the state government's labour department data shows that the number of unemployed has shot up. In 2016, there were 33.5 lakh unemployed whereas in 2018 until September, the figure rose to 42.2 lakh.
The opposition is not leaving any stone unturned to attack the government on this matter. "Now, Maharashtra is facing drought. In such a situation, every day at least 15-20 lakh job cards should be there, but they are not giving jobs and people have to migrate," said NCP leader Nawab Malik.