Skip to main content

Union budget: NREGA allocation grossly insufficient, funds will be "used" for making past payments, says civil society

By Our Representative
Several civil society organizations, led by Anna Adhakaar Suraksha Andolan (AASA), have taken strong exception to the Government of India allocating just Rs 55,000 crore for the financial year 2018-19 towards the rural jobs scheme under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), the same as that of this year's. They had demanded allocation of Rs 80,000 crore.
Pointing out that the initial budget of Rs 48,000 crore was increased to Rs 55,000 crore in January for 2017-18, AASA, a right to food advocacy group, has expressed the apprehension that "given the trend of rising pending liabilities at the end of every year, a sizable part of the 2018-19 budget will be utilized for clearing previous years’ payments."
Noting that the new budget has not addressed several of the issues which have led to this situation, AASA says, this year, there have been "long and unpredictable delays in wage payments", with the Union Ministry of Rural Development releasing NREGA funds "only after states meet its requirements such as submission of various documents", thus "unfairly penalizing NREGA workers", who are often not paid for months Bihar and Jharkhand.
Ina statement, issued along with NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, it says, "Workers are not compensated for the delays in wage payments", adding, independent researchers have found that if in 2016-17, 43% of workers received "full compensation, while in 2017-18 year "this proportion fell to 14%".
It adds, things have not stopped here. "The Centre has, through arbitrary, illegal means like the Approved Labour Budged reduced the number of days of work. For 2017-18, the Projected Labour Budget was reduced by 25%, from 288 crore persondays to 215 crore persondays, resulting in a deficit of over Rs 17,500 crore in 2017-18."
Then, notes AASA, "Real NREGA wage rates have stagnated for several years now. In fact, currently the NREGA wage rates of 17 states are less than the corresponding minimum wages. The government has ignored the recommendations of successive committees to reconcile between MGNREGA wage rates and state minimum wages."
Agreeing, the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), apex body of tens of grassroots organizations across India, says that "the continued apathy of the NDA government towards NREGA was visible" with the Finance Minister refusing to even mention it in his speech, adding, on the other hand, "The Direct Benefit Transfer found mention", but there was no special focus on "poor malnutrition and food security."
Pointing out that the budget made a "big announcement on celebrating Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary", even as "ignoring Gandhian economics", which encompasses self-sufficient village economy and idea of localisation and swadeshi, NAPM, which is led by well-known social activist Medha Patkar, regrets, there is a "50% cut in the allocation handloom sector", on which the unorganized sector depends.

Dalit allocation further reduced

In a separate statement, the Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG) laments that allocation for the Scheduled Castes (SCs) has been further reduce to 2.32% of the total budget from 2.44% and 2.38% in the previous two years. India's SC population is 16.2%. While the Scheduled Tribe (ST) allocation is slightly higher (1.60%) than what it was over the last two years, 1.49% and 1.47% of the total budget, DSG notes, even the meagre amount allocated for SCs and STs was never spent.
"In the year 2014-15, Rs 20,513 crore and in the year 2016-17 Rs 4,499 crore remains unspent from the welfare fund of SCs", DSG states, adding, "For STs Rs 12,466 crore remain unspent in the year 2014-15 and in the year 2016-17 it is Rs 2,195 crore."

Comments

TRENDING

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

UN experts object to GoI move to 'reinforce' trend of prosecution, eviction of tribals

Counterview Desk
In a report sent to the Government of India, three United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs, expressing "concerns" over the failure to ensure "adequate" implementation of the India Forest Rights Act (FRA), have regretted that the Government of India has not cared to reply their previous communications on this.

As submergence stares Narmada valley, Patkar says: With powerful in throne, we're helpless

Counterview Desk
Well-known anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), plans to begin its “Resist Illegal Submergence in Narmada Valley” satyagraha on August 21 at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, amidst news that the situation in the valley is “critical”, with two persons having already died in flood-related incidents in the upstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam.

RTI Act holy cow for Govt of India? Official insists, don't ask why, when, what, where

By Pankti Jog*
The Government of India appears to have begun treating the Right to Information (RTI) Act as a holy cow. Its officials seem to believe that the Act is a sacred law, under which people shouldn't be questioning its functioning. One recalls what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while addressing an RTI convention in 2015: “Why should government wait for people to ask information, we will have all information out in the domain, we have nothing to hide."

River interlinking to transfer tribals' drinking, irrigation water to Maharashtra industries

Counterview Desk
Top advocacy group, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), recently submitted its comments on the Damanganga–Vaitarna-Godavari Intrastate Link project to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), a project sought to be packaged by the Maharashtra chief minister as diversion of water from allegedly water surplus Konkan region to the drought-affected Marathwada region.

Strategy for united struggle against Hindutva 'fascism': Ideological silence is 'no option'

By Dr Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Electoral alliance and opportunism of national and regional political parties, neoliberal economic marginalisation and soft secular Hindutva line pandering to Hindu majoritarianism laid the foundation of Hindutva fascism in post-colonial India.

Can't go to court with RTI information, rule Ahmedabad authorities: Kankaria accident

By Pankti Jog*
In a shocking reply to an application filed by me, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) authorities have said that the information provided under the Right to Information (RT) Act should be used in court or in a judicial process. The Act is known to be a major tool that enables citizens to seek certified copies of documents, records from any public authority of state and Central government within 30 days, as per provisions of the Act.

RSS 'demonizing' Muslim demographics: Hindus' growth rate decline 2.5% lower

By Mohan Guruswamy*
The RSS is riding its old hobbyhorse again. Addressing the Yuva Dampati Sammelan attended by reportedly 2000 young couples organized by the RSS’ Kutumb Prabhodan in Agra on August 21, the RSS Sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat, apparently concerned about the “declining Hindu population” exhorted young Hindu couples to have more children.

Kashmirisation of India? Ayodhya communal harmony meet: Activists stopped, detained

Counterview Desk
In a joint statement, three civil rights organizations, Rihai Manch, National Alliance of People's Movements and Lok Rajniti Manch, and Socialist Party (India), have taken strong exception to the Uttar Pradesh government taking "preventive" steps against those seeking to hold a meeting on communal harmony at Ayodhya.