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Rural job scheme not creating labour shortage in agriculture: Govt

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on July 04, 2014

Offers census, other data; says allegation made by group of rich farmers is baseless

Using Census and other data, the Union Rural Development Ministry is defending itself against complaints that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) has led to labour shortage, affecting agriculture.

The data available with the Ministry say that during the peak agriculture season, just 2.57 per cent of the total agricultural labourers were involved in MGNREGS activities. The data says that between August and September of the last two financial years, 13.46 crore person days were generated in the rural job guarantee scheme on an average in a month. This, says the Government, is just 2.57 per cent of the total agriculture work in rural areas created in a month.

During the slack agriculture season, the scheme created 21.78 crore person days a month on an average, which is only 4.16 per cent of the total person days.

According to the 2011 Census, there are 34.85 crore workers in rural areas.

Of these, 26.20 crore are involved in agriculture and allied activities and 72 per cent of these are agriculture workers. The Census data also showed that 524 crore person days are available for agriculture per month in rural India.

In the last two financial years, the MGNREGS had generated 230 crore and 220 crore person days respectively per month.

“There is an issue that labourers are shifting from agriculture to other areas because agriculture has become unviable due to a variety of reasons, including higher input cost. The allegation that MGNREGS reduces labour supply for agriculture is from some groups of rich farmers. It is baseless,” a senior officer in the Ministry told Business Line.

The officer said the real issue is control over agriculture labour.

Apart from certain farmers’ groups, associations of small and medium-scale industries have also been alleging that the MGNREGS has been weaning away workers from them. There is also demand to stop MGNREGS activities during the peak crop season.

Published on July 03, 2014

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