New Delhi: MGNREGA – the rural job guarantee scheme, which ensures paid unskilled work for up to 100 days in a year, has reportedly run out of funds two-and-half months before the end of the financial year.
The Telegraph website reported that according to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act website, a total fund of ₹59,567 crore was released towards the scheme for the financial year 2018-19. However, the website shows balance of ₹1,719 crore in deficit.
According to the website, social activists have expressed concern over the deficit of funds that may lead to rural distress unless more funds are released. It quoted Nikhil Dey, a social activist, as saying, “The implementing officers will not take up new projects, fearing payment problems. They will not register people’s demand for work. The rural distress will be aggravated. There’s no sign of money being released in the next one month. If you wait for the release of rural funds for financial year 2019-20, that money may come in April. I hope the government releases more funds now.”
According to the report, officials said the rural development ministry had estimated MGNREGA would require an additional Rs 21,000 crore till the end of March in addition to the budget grant. They said the ministry requested the finance ministry in November to urgently release an additional ₹10,000 crore. The finance ministry released ₹6,000 crore recently, which has already been used up.
The rural job guarantee scheme ensures that if a person registers a demand for work in his respective panchayat, the panchayat will have to start a project to provide work within 15 days or else compensation need to be paid to the person. The scheme has proved to be great hope for the rural people. It has helped to keep check on migration of labour, has improved farm production and initiated projects like irrigation and water harvesting.