The NDA government is all set to increase the number of workdays under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) — a flagship scheme of the UPA government it had openly criticised earlier — in areas which may be affected by the truant monsoon this year, said sources.
The central government will increase the number of workdays under the rural job guarantee scheme from 100 to 150 in drought-affected areas, said sources.
MGNREGA promises 100 days of work every year to rural households across the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, while he was in charge of the rural development ministry, have earlier criticised the scheme. The NDA government had also been accused of attempting to “dilute” the scheme during its tenure.
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The Rural Development Ministry, which oversees the implementation of the MGNREGA, has moved a cabinet note to increase the workdays under the scheme by 50 days in areas declared drought-affected by the state governments, said sources. The move has already been approved by the Finance Ministry and it is likely to be passed soon, they said.
The Centre has taken this decision as it expects an increased demand for wage-based employment on public works as regular agricultural activities would be affected in drought-hit areas.
The cost of providing work to rural households for 50 more days will be borne by the central government and the state will not have to bear the financial burden, said sources.
The 150 days will be applicable to the households who complete their 100 days and demand more employment. But this may turn out to be merely a “token move” as similar efforts in the past have not yielded desired results, with most households barely being provided the 100 promised days of work, said sources. In the last fiscal year, three per cent households across the nation completed the 100 of employment; a lower figure than the 10 per cent recorded in the fiscal year before that.