Pandemic Lifesaver MGNREGA Gets a Short Shrift in Budget 2022: Outlay Slashed 25%

by GoNews Desk 2 years ago Views 3157

Budget 2022 MNREGA Allocation Employment Pandemic
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme -commonly known as MNREGA - which saved millions of Indians from destitution and hunger during the Covid19 Pandemic has witnessed a 25.5% cutback in Budget 2022 proposals. The height of the Pandemic and lockdowns saw millions of urban unorganized workers trudging to their villages in 2020 where they had nothing by the way of a job.

The government stepped up and supported them by providing daily work under the scheme launched in 2006. The daily remuneration ranges from Rs 201 in Uttar Pradesh on the low side to Rs 441 in Karnataka. In 2020-21 the government paid Rs 1,11,170 crore to hundreds of millions of such villagers. Next year in Budget 2021-22 the outlay for MNREGA was slashed by 34% to Rs 73,000 crore.

But the rural distress continued in the next and the government had to increase the outlay to Rs 98,000 crore as the demand for this low paying employment was unabated. This year again the finance minister has slashed the MNREGA outlay to Rs 73,000 crore which 25.5% less than the revised estimate of preceding year. 

The finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her more than one-hour long speech did not even mention the scheme which had been the lifeline to a major part of the jobless rural Indians. The 32 page long speech uploaded on the finance ministry website does not mention the program, though the annexures under ‘Outlay on Major Schemes’ terms MGNREGP as the “Core of the Core Schemes” with one of the largest outlays. During the last budget presentation the government had underlined the contribution of MNREGA in providing relief to the rural population.

As of January 2022, more than 152 million people were live on the rosters of MNREGA from 67 million families. They had also generated assets worth Rs 6.11 crore in rural areas. 

Recent reports by Right to Work organizations have highlighted the fact that the Centre has not paid dues running in thousands of crores to states under the minimum wage porogramme. One such report compiled by VV Giri National Labour Institute claimed that the gap between what was due as minimum wage and what was paid to the states was to the tune of Rs 20823 crore.

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