Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: How acute has been the rural unemployment in Odisha is evident from the epochal demand for unskilled jobs under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in the current year of 2020-21.

The State had witnessed a massive 72 per cent rise in demand for jobs under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) till date in the current fiscal year of 2020-21.

As per the data available with the Union Rural Development Ministry (MGNREGS), a whopping 44.23 lakh households have demanded jobs under the employment guarantee scheme in Odisha as against mere 25.77 lakh households in 2019-20.

The data further reveals that demand in Odisha is third-highest among the major states in the country. UP leads the table and is followed by Jharkhand and Odisha.


As per the CMIE unemployment data, Odisha had recorded high unemployment rate for the period of March - May. Incidentally, the period had witnessed intense lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, when scores of migrant labours from Odisha working in states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu etc had returned home.

The CMIE data shows the unemployment rate in the State for the months of March, April and May 2020 stood high at 13.4 per cent, 23.8 per cent and 11.4 per cent, respectively.

The RBI data shows Odisha saw reverse migration from states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. RBI data shows when 1.34 lakh from Gujarat returned to Odisha via shramik trains, 0.58 lakh had returned from Tamil Nadu.

The NREGS data shows maximum job demand had been in the month of June and non-agri months of the year.


The data with the Union Ministry of Rural Development reveals how the rural employment scheme has proved a safety net for the migrant returnees in the State.

  • Though the number of job cards issued in Odisha stood at a high of 76.66 lakh, only 49.27 lakh jobs cards are active.
  • For the first time in recent history, nearly 90 per cent of active households had demanded jobs under the scheme in 2020-21.
  • The high demand for jobs is ascertained from the fact that nearly 2 members from each household have demanded jobs under NREGS this year as against nearly 1.
  • The person-days generated under the scheme in 2020-21 has been highest since 2016-17. A total of 20.39 crore man-days generated till date in 20201-21, which is nearly twice that of 2019-20.
  • For the first time in recent history, a high of 3.73 lakh households in the state have been provided with 100 days of employment.


Though, as per the data available, the demand for work has been highest in Ganjam ( the largest district with the largest migrant workforce) and is followed by Mayurbhanj, eyebrows raised when data showed that industrially developed district like Sundargarh finished third in demand for jobs under NREGS in the State.

With over 2.28 lakh households having received gainful employment under MGNREGS, Sundargarh has finished 3rd in the State in the year 2020-21.