UNNATI project: Govt’s skill upgrade programme for unskilled labourers under MGNREGA fails to take off

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The government’s skill upgrade programme for unskilled labourers under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme labourers has failed to take off.

Official data showed that of target of 1.012 lakh candidates for training in the current fiscal under Unnati project, barely 4% or 4,181 candidates were trained as on January 20, 2021.

Under project Unnati, the ministry of rural development had planned to train one adult member, between 18 and 45 years, per household who had completed 100 days of work under MGNREGA in the previous financial year.

It had aimed to train two lakh candidates between 2019 and 2022 at an estimated cost of over Rs 300 crore.

States such as Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, and some north-eastern states as well as Andaman and Nicobar have not even started work under the project despite.

While officials attribute the delay to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic at the beginning of the fiscal, experts say the programme is not lucrative enough.

“Work under Mgnrega was halted only in the first month of the pandemic. There is no reason why the government did not impart training under the programme after that,” an expert said on condition of anonymity. “I think the prospects of full-time jobs continues to be bleak and hence candidates not enthused enough to take training as this may make them ineligible for work under Mgnrega which is a scheme for the unskilled,” he added.

Based on the duration of the skill training programme and prevailing wage rates in their states, MGNREGA workers who completed the course were eligible for a stipend ranging from Rs 5,970 to Rs 21,500. However, the candidate would be eligible for training for a maximum period of 100 days, and for one programme per household.

Further, the government has rejected over 50 lakh payment transactions under the national rural employment guarantee scheme. Of these, 14.31 lakh have been regenerated so far while the 36.31 lakh claims are yet to be regenerated, impacting the rural incomes during the year.

On order to resolve the problem of dummy workers at the Mgnrega site, the government has launched a National Mobile Monitoring System (NMMS) to capture real time online attendance of the beneficiaries on the worksite on daily basis

“The move is aimed at ensuring transparency and efficiency in filling the muster roll at the work site and will work as a deterrent on the wrong doers,” a government official said.

These issues were discussed at the recently held performance review meeting of the ministry of rural development and presentations were made across schemes to assess progress.

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