In the Union Budget delivered by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday, funding for the rural employment guarantee plan, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA), was cut by 30 percent, to Rs 61,032.65 crore for 2023-24.As compared to the updated projection of Rs 89,154.65 crore for 2022-23, this represents a decrease of 30%.This is the second year in a row that funding for the plan has been reduced; in 2022-23, the MGNREGA’s budgetary allocation was reduced by 25%, from a revised estimate of Rs 98,000 crore to Rs 73,000 crore.
Each rural family in the nation will get 100 days of guaranteed wage-based work every fiscal year thanks to the job guarantee plan. One-third of rural employment under the MGNREGA are reserved for women, as mandated by the Act that established the programme in 2005.The initiative has been hailed as a game-changer throughout the years, providing economic stability for tens of thousands of rural families.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said on Friday that the administration of Narendra Modi is working to abolish the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) one little step at a time.
After the Union Ministry of Rural Development Giriraj Singh was quoted in The Hindu as saying that the States should also shoulder the wage bill under MNREGA in order to make them more proactive in controlling corruption, Mr. Kharge tweeted in Hindi that the government had cut the budget for the scheme by 33% and that the Union Minister now wants the States to pay 40% of the wage bill.
“Narendra Modi ji, do not shut down MNREGA. The country’s poor will never forgive you,” he added.
Randeep Surjewala, general secretary of the Congress, tweeted repeatedly to criticise the government’s actions on the plan, claiming that they “added further barriers for the employees.” He characterised the Ministry’s directive from January 30 mandating the use of Aadhaar-based accounts for MNREGS salary payments as an assault on those who labour under the programme.
Reduced baby malnutrition may have resulted from MGNREGA participation, although this effect may have been transmitted indirectly via higher birth weights rather than better infant feeding practises. Efforts to minimise newborn malnutrition must go beyond social and economic policy and address problems like mothers’ lack of information and incorrect feeding methods.
On Twitter, he referenced an article from The Hindu, writing, “Modi’s administration is tightening the screws on MNREGA, but Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh believes the states need to do more. Due to the lack of funds at both the state and federal levels, the programme will be terminated.”
Yet, MGNREGA is failing to deliver on the ground. The guarantee of full-time work within 100 days is completely unrealistic. Corruption, low salary rates, consistently late delivery of salaries, and a lack of allocated funds all contribute to the scheme’s poor performance. There have been cases of corruption , inadequate resource allocation and wage payment delay.