The government has marginally increased the allocation for rural job scheme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), this budget. It has allocated Rs 33,353 crore to the MNREGA in 2014-15 against Rs 33,000 crore last year.
"The government is committed to providing wage and self-employment opportunities in rural areas. However, wage employment will be provided under the MGNREGA through works that are more productive, asset creating and substantially linked to agriculture and allied activities," said finance minister Arun Jaitley, while presenting the budget on Thursday.
Also, allocation to the rural development department has gone up by only Rs 5,500 crore, with Rs 80,043 crore this year against Rs 74,429 crore in 2013-14.
The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, initiated during the first NDA regime under prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, saw an allocation of Rs 14,389, while Rs 15,266 crore was allocated to drinking water and sanitation.
"The government intends to cover every household by total sanitation by the year 2019, the 150th year birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, through Swatchh Bharat Abhiyan (sic)," Jaitely said.
The government also announced the formal launch of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's brainchild Rurban, a programme to bridge urban-rural divide. Called Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission, it will deliver integrated project-based infrastructure in rural areas, which will also include development of economic activities and skill development.
The government has also proposed setting up a 'Start Up Village Entrepreneurship Programme' to encourage rural youth to take up local entrepreneurship programmes and allocated Rs 100 crore for it.
Skill development under the rural development ministry found a mention in the budget, with the government extending the Ajeevika scheme to 250 districts from 150.
"Under this mission, women SHGs will be bank loans at 4% on prompt repayment in 150 districts. I propose to extend the provision of bank loan for women SHGs at 4% in another 100 districts," Jaitely said.
For the rural housing scheme, which has benefited a big chunk of rural population, the government has proposed to increase the allocations for 2014-15 to Rs 8,000 crore for National Housing Bank (NHB).