Large allocations for MGNREGA, rural development schemes

Large allocations for MGNREGA, rural development schemes

Discarding the pro-rich tag, the NDA government unveiled a series of measures aimed at rural areas in the budget, increasing allocations to develop the hinterland by 10.70 per cent to Rs 87,765 crore.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also substantially hiked allocations for MGNREGS, the previous UPA regime’s signature scheme that came constantly under fire from the BJP for failing to create durable rural assets.

Jaitley committed Rs 38,500 crore for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, while also hiking grant-in-aid to  gram panchayats and municipalities by a whopping 228 per cent to Rs 2.87 lakh crore, as recommended by the 14th Finance Commission. 

Though speculations in its early days that it would redesign MGNREGS have fallen through, the NDA has lately been claiming credit for transforming the scheme that guarantees 100 days of employment in a financial year for rural households.  In effect, the rural scheme gets Rs 3,800 crore additional allocation from the Rs 34,699 crore it earmarked in 2015-16.

On December 31, Rural Development Minister Birender Singh wrote to the Finance Minister informing that his ministry had released Rs 33,448 crore to the states for MGNREGS and urged Jaitley to release the Rs 5000 crore he had promised for the scheme. 

“If the total amount (Rs 38500 crore) is spent, it will be highest budget spend on MGNREGS,” Jaitley said in his budget speech on Monday. 

Underlining the focus on villages hit by drought and other calamities, the Finance Minister also announced that every block under distress will be adopted under Deendayal Antyodaya Mission as an intensive block. He also unveiled a new digital literacy scheme for rural India since 12 crore out of 16.8 crore village households are without computers and are unlikely to have digital literate persons. 

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