Dismissing reports about fund crunch under the rural employment guarantee programme MGNREGA, Union Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh on Wednesday said there is no shortage of funds and will not be any in future, and asserted the Narendra Modi government is committed to its effective implementation.
A group of activists had recently flagged an “acute shortage” of funds under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) despite a pandemic-induced surge in demand for work, and said almost 90 per cent of the allocated budget has been used up with five months remaining of the financial year.
Responding to a question about it, Mr Singh told reporters that the allocation of funds for the scheme during the Modi government has been continuously rising and adding that whenever additional fund is required, the Ministry of Finance is requested to provide it.
In the previous financial year, the Centre had revised the allocation to Rs 1.11 lakh crore from an initial allocation of Rs 61,500 crore.
“The entire MGNREGA scheme has been substantially improved by checking leakages in its implementation and using it for asset creation in villages. It is a demand-driven programme and there is no shortage of funds and there will not be any shortage of funds in future,” Mr Singh told reporters in New Delhi.
The Narendra Modi government is committed to effective implementation of the MGNREGA, he said.
Responding to a question on a letter written by the Tamil Nadu chief minister seeking additional funds under the scheme, Mr Singh said the first tranche of funds was released in April, and under rules the second tranche can only be released after the state submits the audit report of the previous financial year, which was not done by Tamil Nadu in time.
Mr Singh said it is unfortunate that a few states sought funds from the Centre under the programme without following the financial rules and regulations. Such practices should be avoided.
MGNREGA is a demand-driven employment scheme. Not less than 100 days of employment is provided to registered workers upon receipt of their demand.
The workers are given job cards which are linked with their Aadhaar numbers and bank accounts.
It provides supplementary means of livelihood to people in rural areas, primarily during lean periods.
The Centre has also announced additional employment over and above 100 days per household to up to 150 days in notified drought-affected districts in various states of the country.
Assets created under the programme include works related to natural resource management such as water conservation, land development and irrigation. Besides these, dams, irrigation channels, check dams, ponds, wells and anganwadis are also built under the scheme.