ANANTAPUR: It's a paradoxical situation in Anantapur district.
The district stands first in the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), but at the same time has a high rate of labour migration is witnessed.
NREGS wages do not match the rising cost of living and as a result labourers are migrating to Bengaluru, Bellary, Hospet and Gangavati where the daily wage is around `300 per day while the NREGS wage is only `100.
In addition to wages, those working in sugarcane fields are given sugarcane pulp for free, which can be used as cattle fodder.
Labourers from Nimbaggullu, Vyaparapuram, Renumakulapalli, Kalyandurgam and Rayadurgam are moving out.
Those from Kadiri are going to Kadapa to work at granite quarries.
With deficit rainfall this year, the government has declared 63 mandals in the district as drought-affected.
Opposition parties, TDP, CPI, CPM and YSR Congress held massive demonstrations demanding relief measures against drought.
But the government is not taking any further steps saying NREGS is being implemented effectively.
District officials maintain that 75,15,000 job cards were provided in the district.
During the financial year 2011-12, `489 crore works were sanctioned, they say.
"We have provided work to 3.9 lakh people belonging to 2.08 families so far,” district collector V Durga Das said.
NREGS is being implemented very well in the district and no one who came forward to work ever went back, officials claim.
"We provided 100 days job to 43,300 families and added 7,529 new job cards this year.
We have completed 10,238 works worth `19.30 crore, while 56,176 works are in progress,” the collector said.
However, all this could not stop the migration.
Work force from Kadiri is moving to Bengaluru.
District officials say they can increase the number of work days from 100 to 200, but increasing the wage is not in their hands.
School Dropout Rate Rises
The migration has its effect on kids as well.
Two children from Deyyalakunta in BK Samudrammandal of Anantapur district--Sri Latha, studying fourth class, and Sunil, fifth class, who moved along with their parents started working in the fields.
"We cannot live on the meagre wages,” says their father Kullaippa.
DWAMA officials tried to prevail upon him but he moved out.
Education officials in Nalgonda district admit that migration is affecting the studies of children.
Attendance at schools is less for the last few months.
If there are more than 10 students, the government is starting 'work site schools' for migrant children, they said.
It is reported that school dropout rate is going up in Kurnool district with every single family that moves out