Budget 2022 expectation: Why India needs an urban MGNREGA
- The Finance Minister may announce a similar scheme as
MGNREGAfor the urban population during the Union Budget 2022-2023 on February 1.
- Last year, in August 2021, a parliamentary standing committee had suggested that the Union government should roll out a similar scheme.
- A total of 6.51 crore people have been given employment under the MGNREGA scheme during the fiscal year 2021-22.
AdvertisementThis year’s Union Budget, which will be announced on February 1 by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, may drop a bomb by announcing an urban version of the Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA). This scheme may help the economy in recovering from the job and income loss during the COVID-19 pandemic in the urban areas of the country.
Last year, in August 2021, a parliamentary standing committee had suggested that the Union government should roll out a similar scheme like MGNREGA for urban labourers as well, like what India has for rural job-seekers.
Introduced in 2006, MGNREGA, is a government’s employment programme, which gives livelihood security by providing at least one hundred days of guaranteed wage employment in every financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
The Union Budget 2021-22 allocated ₹73,000 crore for the MGNREGA, which was an increase by ₹11,500 crore as compared to 2020-21.
A total 6.51 crore people have been given employment under this MGNREGA scheme during the fiscal year 2021-22.
“ The consequential effects on loss of jobs, rising unemployment, indebtedness, nutrition, health and education of unorganised workers and their family members have the potential to cast a long shadow and cause irreparable damage,” said Bhartruhari Mahtab, head of the standing committee on labour and a member of parliament (MP) from Biju Janata Dal, in a report submitted to the parliament.
According to Betterplace estimates cited by the Economic Times, around 150 million labourers moved back from urban cities to their rural villages during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020.
The committee further said, “The committee’s attention has been drawn to the fact that unlike employment generation programmes in rural areas, the plight of urban poor has not got much attention from the government… There is an imperative need for putting in place an employment guarantee programme for the urban workforce in line with MGNREGA”.
Experts believe that an urban jobs scheme will definitely help tide over such a situation. “We have seen MGNREGA creating huge positive impact on rural employment and infrastructure…there is no urban MGNREGA…can we create [an]
He further said, “Creating urban MGNREGA is one solution, but the real solution is creating opportunities for people.”
AdvertisementNow, the question arises, how is it possible to bring out the job guarantee schemes for urban workers? Answering that question, Mahesh Vyas, CEO of Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) highlighted that there is a manpower crunch at various public places like healthcare centres, schools, security, judiciary and so on. Under this urban employment scheme, people can be given jobs at these public places, which can surely fill the supply and demand gap.
He said,“ When we ask, are there enough people manning public schools, healthcare centres or enough people in the government offices to serve you when you need services?…. The answer will systematically be no but actually there are not enough people to serve us in urban cities. To fix that let’s have an urban employment scheme to ensure that the government is there when we need them.”
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