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Rural Distress: No Fund Left For MGNREGA for FY 2018-19; Budget Allocated For 2019-20 Less Than Amount Already Spent in 2018-19

Activists, retired civil servants and elected representatives even wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to pay attention.

The Rural Development Ministry has exhausted the amount allocated for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) for the financial year 2018-19. According to the MGNREGA website, the net balance is Rs 1,719 crore in deficit. Fearing denial of payment to rural workers now, activists, retired civil servants and elected representatives wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to pay immediate attention to the challenges faced by the MGNREGA.

According to a report published in The Telegraph, the Ministry officials had estimated that an additional amount of Rs 21,000 crore would be required for the programme till the end of March over and above the budget grant. In November, the Rural Development Ministry even wrote to the Finance Ministry to release an additional Rs 10,000 crore without delay as an initial, additional grant. The Finance Ministry issued Rs 6,000 crore, which has already been used up, The Telegraph report added.

Social activist Nikhil Dey told The Telegraph that MGNREGA would be crippled for this financial year, adding to the rural distress, if more funds are not released.

On Friday, February 1, Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal announced that the Modi government had allocated Rs 60,000 crore for the MGNREGA programme for the financial year 2019-20. The Wire reported that a study of the data shows that the allotted amount is 1.8 per cent less than what was given for FY 2018-19 considering the government had to allocate an additional Rs 6,084 crore to the programme in January 2019.

In last year’s Union Budget, Rs 55,000 crore was earmarked for MGNREGA. With the additional allocation, Rs 61,084 was the total amount spent in 2018-19.

Also read: India’s Only Employment Guarantee Scheme Being Systematically Undermined: 250 MPs, Eminent Citizens Write to PM Modi to Release MGNREGA Funds (Read Letter)

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