MGNREGS: Govt spends 35% of FY21 budget in 40 days

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May 11, 2020 8:45 AM

The Centre has released Rs 21,753 crore or 35% of the annual budget outlay under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MG-NREGS) in the first 40 days of the current financial year, as it sought to use the popular scheme to alleviate the distress of migrant workers returning to their villages in large numbers.

The average daily release of funds under the scheme till May 10 in the current financial year was Rs 544 crore, against Rs 196 crore in 2019-20 and Rs 170 crore in 2018-19.

The Centre has released Rs 21,753 crore or 35% of the annual budget outlay under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MG-NREGS) in the first 40 days of the current financial year, as it sought to use the popular scheme to alleviate the distress of migrant workers returning to their villages in large numbers.
The average daily release of funds under the scheme till May 10 in the current financial year was Rs 544 crore, against Rs 196 crore in 2019-20 and Rs 170 crore in 2018-19.

However, it is not immediately ascertainable if how much of the MG-NREGS funds released by the Centre has actually been distributed to the workers by the state governments concerned.

However, an average of 11.72 days of employment has only be provided to rural household under the scheme so far in the current fiscal year, against the average of 48.39 days of work in the whole of 2019-20. This indicates that the even though the release of funds have been accelerated, the lockdown situation has prevented the local authorities from creating jobs on the ground. However, the average daily wage per person under the scheme in the current fiscal has been Rs 204, compared with Rs 182 in 2019-20, indicating that wages have indeed been increased.

After the nationwide lockdown imposed by the Centre to combat Covid-19 pandemic in the last week of March, thousands of migrant workers were seen walking to their homes dozens of kilometres away, as their wages dried up and public transport vanished. At one point, the government itself said around 23 lakh migrant workers were then stranded at different places in the country, many in various relief camps organised by state government authorities or by their employers or in localities where they are generally clustered. Since early this month, the centre has been running ‘Shramik special’ trains to transport these workers back to their respective states and around 300 such trains have already reached their destinations, with over 3 lakh workers.

Of course, the MG-NREGS funds released by the Centre so far in the current financial year includes dues to the tune of Rs 8,362 crore of the last fiscal, including wage dues of Rs 996 crore.

The Centre had released Rs 71,420 crore under MG-NREGS in 2019-20 and Rs 62,125 crore in 2018-19. The revised estimate for the scheme invariably tends to be larger than the Budget Estimates made at the start of the year, in what shows the popularity of the Scheme, which is much in demand among the rural poor. Clearly, the Centre would have to allocate more funds than the budgeted Rs 61,500 crore for MG-NREGS in the current financial year, as the migrants who have returned home from metros and other cities would substantially increase the demand for jobs under the scheme in rural areas.

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was notified on September 7, 2005. It provides for a minimum of 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adult member volunteers to do unskilled manual work. An additional 50 days of wage employment are provided over and above 100 days in the notified drought affected areas or natural calamity areas and to every scheduled tribe household in a forest area.

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