IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

In less than five months of FY21, NREGA demand at all-time high  

17th August, 2020 Economy

Context: The demand for work under the MGNREGA has soared to an all-time high, with about 5.53 crores households availing the rural job guarantee scheme in just four-and a-half months of the current financial year.

  • This is the highest demand the scheme has seen since its inception in 2006-07, an analysis of data available on the MGNREGA portal shows.
  • The earlier record was in 2010-11, when 5.5 crores households availed of MGNREGA work—but that was the figure for the whole financial year.



  • The unprecedented spike in the demand for unskilled work under MGNREGA comes in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, which has disrupted economic activity in cities and forced a large number of migrants to return to their villages.
  • About 5.48 crores households availed MGNREGA work in the last fiscal shows the data on the portal.
  • A month-wise analysis of the data shows that after an initial dip in April during the lockdown, the demand for work under MGNREGA continued to rise in the current financial year.
  • A state wise break-up of the data shows that at least nine states—Goa, Nagaland, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana—registered over a 100 per cent increase in the number of households that worked under MGNREGA in July this year, in comparison to the corresponding month last year.



  • The MGNREGA was initiated with the objective of "enhancing livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year, to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work".
  • Another aim of MGNREGA is to create durable assets (such as roads, canals, ponds and wells).
  • Employment is to be provided within 5 km of an applicant's residence and minimum wages are to be paid.
  • If work is not provided within 15 days of applying, applicants are entitled to an unemployment allowance.
  • MGNREGA is to be implemented mainly by Gram Panchayats (GPs). The involvement of contractors is banned.
  • NREGA can help in protecting the environment, empowering rural women, reducing rural-urban migration and fostering social equity, among others.
  • The act explicitly mentions the principles and agencies for implementation, list of allowed works, financing pattern, monitoring and evaluation, and most importantly the detailed measures to ensure transparency and accountability.