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Demand for work under rural jobs scheme eases in key June quarter

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Demand for work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) eased a tad in the key June quarter from a year before despite monthly variations, reflecting the tentative nature of an industrial recovery.

Person-days generated under the scheme totalled 1.11 billion during the first quarter of this fiscal year, against about 1.14 billion and 1.16 billion in the corresponding quarters of FY23 and FY22, respectively, according to an analysis by the rural development ministry.Suspension of MGNREGS work in West Bengal following alleged fund diversion contributed to the decline, experts said.

However, late kharif crop sowing in large parts of India due to erratic monsoon somewhat held up the migration of workers to the farm sector in June and prevented a steeper fall in work demand under the flagship rural job scheme, they added. The June quarter often accounts for more than half the annual person-day generation, as farm activities remain subdued during this period.

Also, the summer is the ideal season for undertaking several work programmes, including building water bodies, under the MGNREGS. About 118.57 million individuals opted for work under the scheme between April and June, down 0.8% from a year before, as per the preliminary data compiled by the ministry.

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