The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MG-NREGS) may face a fund crunch and get disrupted unless the government increases the allocation for the popular scheme from the budgeted level soon. As much as 72% of the Rs 73,000 crore Budget allocation for the scheme has already been spent, latest data from the rural development ministry showed.
While additional allocations under the scheme in the supplementary demands have been common in the last few years, sources said the rural development ministry is yet to estimate the amount it may have to seek in the supplementary demands for expenditure for the current fiscal.
“We are not in a position to estimate how much money would be additionally required to meet the demand for the current fiscal,” a ministry official said.
In the last two years, 80-85% funds provided in the Budget for MG-NREGS got exhausted within the first six months of the years. A supplementary allocation is then made in the ninth or tenth month of the year as implementation of the programme slows down.
As per the MG-NREGS dashboard, total expenditure under the scheme, as of now, stands at Rs 52,394 crore. In each of the last two fiscal years, ravaged by the pandemic, total expenditure under MG-NREGS went past the Rs 1 trillion mark to stand at 1.06 trillion and 1.12 trillion respectively. In 2018-19 and 2019-20, MG-NREGS expenditure was in the Rs 68,000-69,000 crore range.
Of course, demand for work from households have also started slowing since its peak in June 2022 at 31.8 million to 16 million in August. The September number may be even lower going by the trend so far.
A total of 1.6 billion person days of work has been generated under MG-NREGS so far in the current fiscal compared with 3.6 billion in the whole of last year .
MG-NREGS is a demand-driven scheme for the enhancement of livelihood security of the households in rural areas by providing at least one hundred days of guaranteed wage employment to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work in every financial year.
However, against the mandate, a household has received only 33.58 days of work so far in the current fiscal against the last fiscal’s tally of 50.07 days. Interestingly, only 47.8 million households have worked so far in the current fiscal compared 72.6 million households in the entire of last fiscal.
Number of individuals who worked under the scheme has also been lower at 65.7 million against last fiscal’s 106.2 million.