MGNREGA achievements in Jammu and Kashmir

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is a scheme launched by the Indian Government to provide employment to rural households across the country. Under the scheme, rural households in Jammu and Kashmir can apply for unskilled manual work for at least 100 days in a financial year. The work provided can include activities such as road construction, water conservation, and afforestation. MGNREGA aims to provide employment opportunities to rural households, reduce migration to urban areas, and improve the overall economic and social well-being of the rural population. Guaranteed 100 days of employment per year to rural households has helped to reduce poverty and improve the economic condition of rural households in Jammu and Kashmir, specifically in a terrorism-affected state (UT). By providing a stable source of income, MGNREGA has helped to reduce the vulnerability of rural households to economic shocks and distress. MGNREGA works have contributed towards the development of rural infrastructure, including roads, canals, and water conservation structures. These works have not only provided employment opportunities but have also improved the quality of life in rural areas by enhancing access to basic facilities like water and roads. Most importantly, MGNREGA has been instrumental in empowering women in rural areas by providing them with employment opportunities and equal wages. The scheme has encouraged women to participate in decision-making processes and has helped to reduce gender-based discrimination. Above all, MGNREGA projects have provided opportunities for unskilled labourers to acquire new skills, which can increase their employability in other sectors. The scheme has also encouraged the use of modern technology in construction, thereby contributing to the overall development of rural areas.
Parsing the data of the last few years of Jammu and Kashmir MGNREGA works reveals that all the parameters have been achieved, the number of works has doubled, and in the just-concluded financial year, there was a 200% increase in work done worth 931.16 crores, creating 2.82 crore person-days of work for the inhabitants of the rural population, an achievement beyond words. Overall, women’s person days share was 30.35%, providing an opportunity for the women to not only work to earn but also improve their skills for better future employment opportunities. In total, 9 lakh persons belonging to around 6.84 lakh households worked under this scheme to earn their livelihood, which helped the rural population to sustain itself financially after the pandemic.
Buoyed by two lakh completed works in the last financial year, the bar has been raised further, and a proposed target of approximately 2,71,474 works has been fixed. Nearly 40% of the works will be related to natural resources management, including repairs, rejuvenation of water bodies, and aforestation; approximately 30% of the works will be directed towards assets for the poor section of society, and the rest 30% will be directed towards developing rural infrastructure. Women’s days of work will again be proportionately assigned to ensure their share in employment and development. The implementation of MGNREGA in Jammu and Kashmir has contributed a lot to the overall development of the region. Rural populations have immensely benefited, keeping in view the turbulent conditions of the last few years, but the last financial year has delivered a much-needed boost to the rural economy as well as development. Transparency, responsibility, and accountability in the system have been improved with several reforms. Direct money transfer has been the game changer, and all accounts are Aadhaar linked to plug the pilferage. All these reforms have made MGNREGA work transparently and as per the expectations of the masses.
Overall, MGNREGA has played a crucial role in improving the lives of the poor in rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir by providing employment opportunities, infrastructure development, women’s empowerment, and skill development. Within four years, the work completed has increased eight times, and administration projects have achieved a target of almost eleven times. With the kind of work culture being developed, this is achievable.