MPs write to PM to release funds for rural job scheme

MPs write to PM to release funds for rural job scheme

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Image courtesy Twitter

Nearly 90 MPs and 160 eminent citizens have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to release funds for the rural job scheme to give relief to people, who are reeling under farm distress.

They pointed out that over 99% of the funds allocated for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) had been exhausted by January 1 last and the acute fund crunch had brought the programme close to a halt.

The parliamentarians and the eminent citizens, including former bureaucrats, leading development economists, prominent activists and the leaders of the farmers, even alleged that Modi Government was systematically undermining the MGNREGS, which the erstwhile Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had launched in 2006.

“Despite repeated public statements by your government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, we are alarmed to note that the country’s only employment guarantee is being systematically undermined,” they wrote to Modi. “Illegal restrictions on its budget allocation, severe payment delays and low wages are crippling the program and depriving people in distress of one of their most important legally supported structures.”

The MPs, who signed the letter to Prime Minister, are mostly from the Congress and other Opposition parties like Trinamool Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Telugu Desam Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal.

They argued that the MGNREGS was “one of the strongest tried and tested measures that this government has to address the high levels of unemployment and declining farm incomes that have led to the situation of acute rural distress across the country”. “There is substantial evidence to show that it has played an important role in protecting the lives, livelihoods and wages of rural workers, and been a vital support to vulnerable communities, including those facing distress due to natural disasters and calamities,” they wrote to the Prime Minister.

The MPs, activists, economists and the leaders of the farmers urged Modi to make the strengthening of MGNREGS an urgent priority of his government and formally include it as part of the set of measures being considered to deal with the current rural and agrarian crisis.

The MGNREGS – mandated by Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act – is a demand-driven programme designed to guarantee at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every rural household having adults ready to do unskilled manual work.

The scheme was launched on February 2, 2006, and was often highlighted by the UPA Government as a programme, which legally guaranteed minimum livelihood security to the rural population, contributed to bringing up rural wages, lessened distress migration and empowered of weaker sections.