Skip to main content

GoI's 'derisively low' budget allocation to further weaken rural jobs lifeline NREGA

Counterview Desk 

Well-known advocacy group, NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, expressing its “deep disappointment” at what it calls “ridiculously low budget allocation for implementing the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), has said that the decrease of the rural development budget by 12% suggests the Government of India (GoI) has once again failed millions of its rural citizens who depend on the rural employment guarantee programme for meeting their life needs.
Asking GoI to “take necessary actions within a month to allocate adequate funds for the programme”, a statement by the NGO says, “Since 2015-16, the annual budget allocation has never been sufficient to provide work to all those seeking employment under the programme. In fact, every year about 80-90% of the budget gets exhausted within the first 6 months, resulting in heavy slowdown of work on the ground.”

Text:

Notwithstanding the rural distress, implementing the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) is a legal obligation of the Central government. However, the demand-driven nature of the Act has been repeatedly stifled in letter and spirit. By severe rationing of funds, it has been made a supply driven programme.
February 1 was NREGA diwas, and while we are supposed to be celebrating the idea of rural employment guarantee, we are deeply pained that the programme is systematically undermined by ridiculously low budget allocation.
The total allocation outlay for the ministry of rural development has decreased by 12% in the Union Budget 2022-23, adding on to the existing distress of the rural economy. While for NREGA, despite revised estimates for the current financial year coming in at around Rs 98,000 crore, the budgetary allocation has stayed the same as last year, at Rs 73,000 crore. Out of this, about Rs 18,350 crore are pending liabilities from previous years. Therefore, only about Rs 54,650 crore is available for next year.
If the government wants to provide legal guarantee of work to all the active job card holding households, which is 9.94 crore, then considering the current budgetary estimate, it will only be able to provide some 16 days at per person per day average cost of Rs 334.
Since 2015-16, the annual budget allocation has never been sufficient to provide work to all those seeking employment under the programme. In fact, every year about 80-90% of the budget gets exhausted within the first 6 months, resulting in heavy slowdown of work on the ground. The government has not been able to provide employment to all active job card holding families due to inadequate budget allocation.
It is well known that NREGA has served as a lifeline for millions of distressed households in the last couple of years and helped rural India cope with the unprecedented unemployment caused by the unilaterally imposed national lockdown in FY 2020-21. It has almost worked as a vaccine for unemployment in rural India which is still struggling to recover from enormous loss of lives and livelihoods.
NREGA has worked as a vaccine for unemployment in rural India which is still struggling to recover from enormous loss of lives and livelihoods
While in FY 2020-21 the Central government ended up spending Rs 1.11 lakh crore for a record 11 crore workers from 7.5 crore households who worked under NREGA, in FY 2021-22, a 34% reduction in budget allocation caused much lesser employment generation on ground.
The government later on added a supplementary budget of Rs 25,000 crore in view of the growing need for work across rural India. As of now 9.75 crore workers from 6.74 crore households have worked in NREGA this financial year despite frequent interruptions in implementation due to great delays in fund release from the centre.
We had recommended in our pre-budget note that no less than Rs 3.62 lakh crore will be needed to ensure maximum employment generation for all active job cardholding families. The Government has once again failed millions of its rural citizens who depend on the rural employment guarantee programme for meeting their life needs.
We, members of NREGA Sangharsh Morcha express our deep disappointment at this ridiculously low budget allocation for NREGA and we urge that the central government should take necessary actions within a month to allocate adequate funds for the programme.
We also expect quick action to strengthen social audits across the nation and to ensure that independent social audits are regularized in all states, findings are put in public domain and timely actions are ensured against each irregularity.

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.