New Delhi: Social activists opposing the NDA government's move to reform MNREGA today said that the scheme has in fact helped revive the agriculture sector of the country.
Citing a new study conducted by a Mumbai-based research institute they said that a majority of the works undertaken, around 79 per cent, explicitly supports agricultural activities, via land levelling, horticulture and water conservation and harvesting works on public lands.
“The remaining works include roads and afforestation, some of which implicitly support agriculture as well. In the context of critiques of the MNREGA, it is apparent that Maharashtra's MNREGA is supportive of agriculture,” says the study ‘MNREGA Works and their Impacts: A Rapid Assessment in Maharashtra' conducted by Mumbai-based Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGDR).
Nikhil Dey, who is an associate of social activist Aruna Roy, said the new IGDR study on MNREGA is an eye opener for all those who are trying to weaken the pro-poor programme.
“The study has shown that agriculture sector of a state like Maharashtra has immensely benefited because of effective implementation of MNREGA,” Dey told PTI.
The study has been sent to the Centre and the Maharashtra government for assessment.
Government, however, countered the argument citing another study on MNREGA done by an economist from University of Michigan which questioned the existence of such a scheme, at least in its current form.
According the government, an empirical study ‘Why Guarantee Employment? Evidence from a Large Indian Public-Works Program' by Laura Zimmermann of University of Michigan has established that the overall direct effects of MNREGA on the labor market are small. “The results suggest that the overall direct effects on the labor market are small,” the study said.