Centre releases Rs12, 230 cr to states for rural employment scheme

The centre has released its share of Rs12,230 crore to states in connection with the implementation of its flagship programme Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), union minister for rural development Birender Singh said today

These funds will take care of the pending wage liability of the states for the previous financial year (2015-16) and help them run the programme during the new financial year (2016-17), the minister added.

He said that the ministry has decided to maintain the 60:40 wage-material ratio at the district level now to ensure creation of good quality assets in the rural areas. He also reiterated the government's commitment to ensuring flow of adequate resources for fulfilling the programme objectives.

Rebutting the reports published in a section of media that there are arrears of wages of over Rs8,000 crore under MGNREGA for the 2015-2016 financial year, Singh said, in fact, the year 2015-16 has registered expenditure under MGNREGA to the tune of Rs41,371 crore, which is the highest expenditure under the programme since its inception.

Out of this expenditure Rs30,139 crore has gone towards payment of wages. This has allowed for the highest employment generation over the past three years and the best achievement on key parameters over the last three years such as works taken up, women participation (55 per cent) and 95 per cent of payments through electronic fund management system.

The minister further emphasised that the ministry of rural development has brought large scale reforms in the implementation of the programme so as to orient it towards combating the agrarian distress and meet the demand for work in drought affected areas, creating durable and income generating assets mostly linked to augmentation of irrigation potential.

In the year 2015-16, states were asked to provide employment where needed, particularly drought affected areas, with the assurance of making required resources available.

The ministry expanded the entitlement from 100 to 150 days of work to households in drought affected regions of ten states. 2.05 million households in these regions have availed this opportunity and completed more than 100 days of work. At the national level 4.4 million households have completed 100 days.

To further bring down the delay in payment of wages, the ministry, in line with the cabinet decision, has introduced National Electronic Fund Management System (NeFMS) in the current financial year.

In 2016-17, as part of their labour budget, the states have proposed to construct 8.82 lakh farm ponds and 1.04 million organic compost pits to boost the agriculture sector. States have also proposed to construct 3.3 million individual house hold latrines as part of Swachh Bharat Mission and 63,000 Anganwadi centre buildings to strengthen rural infrastructure.

He said the plan for 2016-17 will focus on accelerating the momentum gained in employment generation while further strengthening the monitoring system.