There is a backlog of over Rs 17,000 crore in payment of wages for unskilled labour under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act since 2014, MoS (Rural Development) Ram Kripal Yadav said in response to a question by two MPs in Lok Sabha Thursday.
The year-wise breakup is is Rs 4,200 crore for 2014-15, Rs 3,900 crore for 2015-16 and Rs 8,000 crore for 2016- 17, until March 11, the minister said. Among the states, West Bengal has the largest unpaid dues this fiscal at Rs 2,435 crore. UP, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, MP, Kerala and Assam too account for more than Rs 500 crore each in 2016- 17.
“The fund release to states/UTs is a continuous process and central government is committed to making funds available keeping in view the demand for work,” Ram Kripal Yadav said.
In May 2016, the Supreme Court had criticised the government for not releasing adequate funds for MNREGA. In his budget speech this year, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the “highest ever” allocation of funds to MNREGA at Rs 48,000 crore. This has, however, been described in some quarters as a marginal increase from the revised estimates for MNREGA’s allocation in the previous year, which was Rs 47,499 crore.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called MNREGA the “living monument of the Congress-led UPA government’s failure” in 2015. MNREGA’s actual spend in 2015-16 was Rs 37,340.71 crore.
On Thursday, MoS Yadav also apprised Lok Sabha of various steps taken by the government to reduce delays in the payment of MNREGA wages.