Union Minister for Rural Development Birender Singh said that the Ministry of Rural Development has released a central share of Rs. 12,230 Crore to the States in connection with the implementation of its flagship programme Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. (MGNREGA)
The Minister also underlined that this fund release will take care of the pending wage liability of the States for the previous Financial Year (2015-16) and help the States to run the Programme during the new Financial Year (2016-17).
He reiterated that the Government is committed to ensuring flow of adequate resources for fulfilling the programme objectives. The Ministry has also decided to maintain 60:40 wage-material ratio at the District level now to ensure creation of good quality assets in the rural areas.
Rebutting the reports published in a section of media that there are arrears of wages of over Rs. 8000 crore under MGNREGA for the 2015-2016 financial year, Shri Singh said, in fact, the year 2015-16 has registered expenditure under MGNREGA to the tune of Rs. 41,371 crore, which is the highest expenditure under the programme since its inception.
Out of this expenditure Rs.30,139 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%) and 95% of payments through electronic fund management system.
The Minister further emphasized that the Ministry of Rural Development has brought large scale reforms in the implementation of the programme in such a manner that it is oriented more towards combating the agrarian distress and meet the demand for work in drought affected areas creating durable & 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. 20.48 Lakh households in these regions have availed this opportunity and completed more than 100 days of work.
At the national level 44 Lakh 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 10.39 lakh organic compost pits to boost the agriculture sector. The States have also proposed to construct 33 lakh Individual House Hold Latrines (IHHL) as part of Swachh Bharat Mission and 63,000 Anganwadi centre buildings to strengthen rural infrastructure.
The road map for 2016-17 will focus on accelerating the momentum gained in employment generation while further strengthening the monitoring system.