Only about 6% of the families registered under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MG-NREGA) got the full 100 days of work during last financial year, according to numbers from the Rural Development ministry. The numbers also revealed a sharp increase in complaints from Uttar Pradesh.
While the ministry did not reveal how many families are registered under the national job guarantee scheme, Jairam Ramesh, minister for rural development said only 0.38 crore (38 lakh) families got the full 100 days of employment last year.
About Rs 25,000 crore ($5 billion) was disbursed as wages in the scheme last year.
The 38 lakh households are likely to be less than 6 percent of the total households registered in the scheme, as the total membership in the scheme is 12.26 crore.
Assuming, on average, two persons from a family get registered in the scheme, there are about 6.1 crore families in the scheme.
The ministry statement did not clarify the reason for the relatively low tally of full beneficiaries. It may have been caused by poor implementation or the lack of demand for work.
Under the scheme, meant as a social security net for the poorest of the poor, each registered household is assured 100 days of manual work, such as digging, carrying stones and other construction, every year at the rate of about Rs 100 per day.
The scheme has been often criticized for large embezzlement of funds by the government officials in charge of implementing it.
According to several reports, much of the money goes into the pockets of officials, instead of the to the intended recipients.
However, the scheme seems to be on the mend, as a large proportion of the money was credited to beneficiaries through bank accounts and the postal service.
According to the statement, Rs.20,763 crore was disbursed through post offices and banks and Rs.3,975 crore in cash last year.
Meanwhile, numbers also revealed a big rise last year in the number of complaints registered in regard to the implementation of the project.
Total number of complaints registered with the central government rose to 957 (with 20 more days to go) in the year-ended March 2012. It was 621 in the previous year and 528 in 2009-10.
Most of the increase in complaints came from Uttar Pradesh, which saw its share of complaints rise from 266 to 545 in 2011-12.