- At least 1.4 lakh poor rural households have already completed their quota of 100 days of work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
- Another seven lakh households have completed 80 days.
- With the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown resulting in thousands of unemployed migrant workers returning to their villages, many are now dependent on MGNREGA wages.
- Having completed the quota of 100 days of work, in the first three months of the year, they will not be eligible for further benefits under the scheme for the rest of the year.
- With work running out, the families are in a huge crisis.
- While the construction sector, which usually absorbs a large number of workers, has also collapsed, the demand for MGNREGA work has been increasing.
- Activists are urging the government to increase the limit to at least 200 days per household.
- The scheme contains a provision for districts affected by natural disasters to request an expansion of the scheme to allow for 150 days of work per household.
- Given that COVID-19 was declared a national disaster, activists have demanded that this provision be implemented immediately.
- Activists have argued that the limit should be imposed per adult individual rather than per household.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, earlier known as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was passed on 7th September 2005 to augment employment generation and social security in India. It covers all districts of India except the ones with 100% urban population.
As per the latest announcement made by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on March 26th, 2020, the workers under the MGNREGA would get a hike of Rs. 2000 each on an average. It was also announced that three crore senior citizens, persons with disabilities and widows will get one-time additional amount of Rs 1,000 in two installments which will be provided through DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer) over a period of three months. This announcement was made as an initiative towards the loss caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. The 21 days lock down is expected to cost the Indian Economy a cost of around 9 lakh crores. Funds worth Rs 31,000 crore are also to be provided to augment medical testing, screening and providing better healthcare facilities to those who have been affected financially due to the Covid-19 outbreak.