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NEW: 'Unemployment Allowance Is Mere Hearsay'

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

Q. Are you a resident of this village? If yes, have you ever migrated from here and for what reason?

MGNREGS Worker: Yes, I am a resident of this village. I often migrate to Pune and Bombay because work is available in the village only twice a year; once, when the paddy crop is harvested and second, when the wheat crop is harvested, the rest of the time there is no work. That is why one has to go outside for employment.

Q. Have you tried to avail benefits of the Public Distribution System (PDS) at your workplace by using the One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC)* scheme?

MGNREGS Worker: I don't have any kind of information about ONORC, that's the reason I never even tried to avail this. My wife gets food grains from a PDS shop with a ration card.

Q. If your Aadhaar is registered at your home or source village, have you faced any challenge in availing services at your place of work?

MGNREGS Worker: No, I have not faced any kind of problem or problem related to Aadhar till date.

Q. What documents did the respective authorities ask from you for availing the benefits of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), PDS and health related government schemes?

MGNREGS Worker: No documents were asked for availing ICDS benefits. For PDS, we needed to show our ration card. And, for MGNREGS and health benefits, a bank account number, Aadhar card and ration card were needed.

Q. Have you registered as a Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) worker in your source city or destination site? Have you faced any problems with registering or availing work?

MGNREGS Worker: I had registered under MGNREGA in my village and I also have a job card, but I do not get work. Even when there’s work, it is only available for 35 to 40 days in a year, and it takes 3 to 4 months for money to come. Are we supposed to stay hungry in the meanwhile? Even a shopkeeper does not lend for that long a period.

Q. Were you provided with unemployment allowance** if you did not get work after registering for MGNREGS?

MGNREGS Worker: Never. Such an allowance is mere hearsay.

This interview was conducted with a MGNREGS Worker in Bihar in Hindi on 19 October 2022, and has been translated.

** The ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ (ONORC) scheme was launched in August 2019, to allow for nationwide portability of National Food Security Act benefits. The scheme provides flexibility to migrant beneficiaries to lift their foodgrains from any Fair Price Shop (FPS) of their choice in most parts of the country, by using their existing ration card with biometric authentication of identity on an e-PoS device.

** Under MGNREGS, there is provision of a daily unemployment allowance if an applicant is not provided employment within 15 days of having demanded work.

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