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Huge push likely for MGNREGS rural jobs scheme in 2018

Budget allocation for MGNREGS to be 20 per cent more than last year's Rs 48,000 crore; 11 crore workers to benefit

Published: 03rd January 2018 08:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd January 2018 08:25 AM   |  A+A-

Image used for representational purpose.

Express News Service

 NEW DELHI: The last full Budget of the NDA government is likely to give a major push to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) by earmarking more funds for it.

Sources said Budget 2018-19 will allocate around 20 per cent more for the rural jobs scheme compared to last year. The flagship scheme, started by Manmohan Singh’s UPA regime, is benefiting about 11 crore active workers in rural India.

In 2017-18, the NDA government had allocated Rs 48,000 crore for the scheme to meet the growing demand for work. Approximately 21 per cent of the allocation was spent on rural connectivity, 11 per cent on renovation of traditional water bodies and 6 per cent on drought-proofing.

“Although, the government substantially increased allocation in the last three years touching over Rs 1 lakh crore for the rural sector focusing on economy and infrastructure, implementation on the ground has not been satisfactory,” a source said. “Even lucrative schemes like promoting village-level entrepreneurs failed to generate results. The scheme on land rights and leasing has also gone into hibernation. A plan to extend support to bio-fuel production in rain-fed areas made little headway. We have rsought detailed reports on projects in the preparatory phase and schemes where no expenditure has been incurred by state governments.”

World Bank, which is assisting with the Neeranchal National Watershed Project, recently wrote to the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) under the Finance Ministry expressing disappointment over shoddy implementation.

This project, which will provide technical assistance to the watershed component of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana that will ensure every farm has access to irrigation, was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs in October 2015. It has a total outlay of Rs 2,142 crore, with 50 per cent as loan component from the World Bank. The pilot Neeranchal project was launched in nine states, including Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. But the World Bank has informed the DEA that hardly any progress has been made on the ground and a large chunk of the funds has remained unutilised.

“Some projects have been delayed because states did not file utilisation certificates on time, so subsequent instalments to meet expenditure were delayed. We cannot bypass general financial rules. In some cases, the money has been released as late as the last week of December,” a source said.



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