The demand for work under NREGA has suddenly peaked after the high-value currency notes were demonetised in November and the outlay for the social security scheme in the current year is set to surpass Rs 51,000 crore, the highest ever.
“There has been sudden surge in the demand for work under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in last one month or so,” a source said.
The rural development ministry has sought a few thousand crores in additional funds for NREGA, facing a liquidity crunch despite the highest-ever budgetary allocation this year.
Reports have suggested migrants – especially from Bihar, Odisha and other states – were returning to their native places and that has led to the jump in the demand for work under the scheme, according to sources.
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About Rs 43,499 crore was allocated for NREGA in this year’s budget, out of which more than 90 per cent has been released to the states, the source added.
The ministry has also cleared about Rs 12,581 crore in outstandings for the previous year.
According to sources, the demand for work is also higher as there are still some regions which are drought-affected.
NREGA, a flagship programme introduced by the previous Congress-led UPA government, is a demand-driven employment scheme. Not less than 100 days of employment are provided to registered workers upon receipt of their demand.
It provides supplementary means of livelihood to people in rural areas, primarily during lean periods.
Congress has alleged that the scheme was being stifled by the NDA government, which has denied the charge.
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 NREGA included works related to natural resource management such as water conservation, land development and irrigation. Besides these, dams, irrigations channels, check dams, ponds, wells Aanganwadi assets were also constructed under the scheme.