Rajasthan tops states in job card holders. But that is about it.
The money paid after a hard day's work is often not even a third of the prevailing minimum wage in the state. Ditto in Uttar Pradesh. In Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, the wage borders between Rs 30 and 40. This is despite the minimum wage in Rajasthan being Rs 73 and Rs 58 in Uttar Pradesh. Haryana pays the prevailing minimum wage of Rs 95.
The payment in these states is based on an average of the money payable to all the workers rather than on the basis of the work done by each worker or each group as the law demands. However, in the sheer size of the workforce unleashed by Rajasthan's NREGP, the other two states are reduced to pigmies.
In both, the number of job cards seldom exceeds the 100 mark in each village.
In Chitrakoot district's Raipurva Mafi village, 100 job cards have been given. In Basaundha village, 100 out of the 200 applicants got cards. In Raipurva, 71 of the 118 applicants got cards. In Machariha, 42 of the 50 applicants got cards.
In central Uttar Pradesh's Sitapur district, only 60 cards have been given in Sariya Maluhi village while in Jainpur only 53 have been given. In Barabari, it is 60 while it is 110 in Nepalapur.
The figures rarely cross the 100 mark. Says CDO of Chitrakoot R P Singh: There has been a ceiling on cards as we don't have either engineers or panchayat secretaries to handle so many. Just 36 panchayat secretaries for 330 gram panchayats. But we are trying to cover the 70,000 BPL population in Chitrakoot. We have given about 27,000 job cards last month.
The restriction on the number of cards is seen in Haryana's Mahendragarh district where also it is attributed to shortage of staff. On the contrary, there is a flood of job cards in Rajasthan. Numbers go up to 250 in some villages and unlike in some places in the other two states, women outnumber men at work sites.
In Gogunda block, the place known as the coronation site of Maharana Pratap in Udaipur, villages have no shortage of job cards. In Ravliya Kalan, sarpanch Bhawar lal Bhatt says 547 cards have been given to a voter population of 2,000 voters.
If anything is short it is the money. The plight of workers in Uttar Pradesh is as bad. Says Bhagwat Prasad, activist director of the Akhil Bharatiya Samaj Seva Sansthan of Chitrakoot district: Here entitlement has become a form of exploitation with people getting wages as low as Rs 30.
Low wages or not, the administration in Udaipur feels proud of the large work force its NREGP has garnered. We are making payment of Rs 5 lakh in Gogunda block daily, says Mohammad Hussain Bohra, assistant engineer. If 50 people are there we are ready to sanction the next project, he adds.