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In a large part of India, especially in the semi-arid region to which Maharashtra belongs  agriculture is a highly seasonal activity. During the lean periods, large sections of rural households eke out a bare subsistence through short spells of mostly unremunerative employment. If employment opportunities expanded, the severity of hardships would lessen. Motivated by this concern EGS was initiated experimentally in 1965. It was subsequently expanded as part of an integrated rural development project, culminating in the EGS Act (No. XX of 1978) and its implementation in Maharashtra in 1978.

The scheme guarantees that every adult who wants a job in rural areas will be given one, provided that the person is willing to do unskilled manual work on a piece - rate basis.7 Self-selection of the poor is built into the EGS. First, no choice of work is offered. Secondly, until 1988, the wage rate was usually below the agricultural wage rate.8 Thirdly, as the guarantee holds at the district level, a person may be required to travel a long distance for a few days of temporary work.

The employment seeker is required to work for a minimum of 30 days on the site assigned. The person must present himself/herself for work within 7 days of offer of work. Failure to provide employment within 15 days of registration entitles the person to an unemployment allowance (of Rs.2 per day).9 Ex-gratia payment up to Rs.10, 000 is admissible in case of death or disablement of a worker on the site. Some amenities provided on the site include potable water, crèches, resting place and first aid.

Report: Two-day state level workshop on ‘Right to Food’

17 – 18 September 2005, Nagpur.

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