There has been a dip in the persondays of work in the month of May indicating that the second wave of the pandemic hit job creation in rural areas.

According to a report in the Times of India, the rural job creation programme, MGNREGA, generated 29.7 persondays of work while the figures stood at 56.9 crore persondays of work in the same period last year.

The second wave of the coronavirus has hit the rural areas as well unlike last year when the first wave was restricted to urban areas only.

A number of states had imposed local lockdowns to break the chain of transmission. As a result, economic activity was hit and job creation impacted. The graded unlock process has kicked in now as the wave shows signs of ebbing.

The numbers have seen a drop in the current fiscal compared to the numbers of 2019-20 before the pandemic had struck.

According to a report in this paper, from April 1 till May 13, total work generated was 34.56 crore person days, lower than 39.77 crore person days in the same time period 2019-20. The figures for 2020-21 from April 1 to May 13 stood at 28.3 crore person days as a lockdown was imposed in the last week of March in 2020 to contain the fast spreading virus. Job creation in rural areas had started picking pace once the curbs got relaxed.

The rural job creation scheme has helped the government in protecting the rural population from the harsh economic impact of the virus.

“There has been a slow start to MGNREGA this financial year because of a number of reasons. The second wave of pandemic has affected a large number of workers, increase in deaths and lockdowns by state governments to curb spread in rural areas — all the factors have contributed to a slowdown,” secretary (rural development) Nagendra Nath Sinha told ET.

The government has allocated Rs 73,000 crore for the scheme in this year’s Budget, around 34% less than the revised estimates of last fiscal.

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