Govt Want To Pledge More Funds For MGNREGA
Funds For MGNREGA: 10,000 of migrant workers fleeing the cities in the wake of the lockdown are set to find it harder to earn livelihood back in the villages even after the curbs are lifted unless the Union Government commits more funds for the rural job scheme and expands its scope.
A routine annual hike in the rates of wages for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) will come into effect on Wednesday, just as it did on the first days of the past financial years too. Prime Minister Narendra Modi Government, however, projected the hike in wages as a component of its package to help the poor in the villages and alleviate the distress on the rural economy due to the lockdown imposed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman allocated Rs 61,500 crore for the MGNREGS in the Union Budget for 2020-21. The Government had allocated Rs 60000 crore for the scheme in the Budget for 2019-20. Though the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) had asked for a hike of Rs 20000 crore in the revised allocation. the scheme in 2020-21 is even Rs 9500 crore less than what was earmarked for it in the revised estimate of the previous financial year.
“The migrant workers, who have now gone back to the villages, may not return soon, because not much employment opportunities may be available for them in the urban areas immediately aer the lockdown is lied,” economist Jean Drèze said. “The government will have to spend much more for the MGNREGS to support the migrant workers going back to the villages as well as the rest of the rural population once the lockdown is lied and the crisis gets over,” Drèze, a visiting professor at Ranchi University, said. He also said that the government should use the public distribution system to deliver food to the migrant workers going back to the villages, in addition to providing cash.
A spokesperson of the MoRD said that the ministry was “according top priority to liquidate the wage and material arrears” under the MGNREGS. “An amount of Rs 4,431 crore has been released recently to the various States and Union Territories to liquidate the liabilities of the current (2019-20) fiscal year and the remaining such liabilities along with first tranche for the year 2020-21.