The Rajasthan government has demanded Rs 850 crore from the Centre to carry on Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) as the number of job seekers has increased due to drought, officials said on Tuesday.
Besides, there has been an increase of 42% man-days under the scheme in 2015-16. However, the government has not received sufficient money to buy material to provide them jobs. The material component under the scheme includes, cement, stones, gravel sand, iron bars for construction of roads, drains, check dam and buildings. Without material, the job seekers could hardly be engaged productively,officials said.
A senior MNREGS official on anonymity said, “There has been a delay of funds between February and April month this year from the centre. However, the MNREGS department borrowed Rs 600 crore from state government to release wages on time. The pending liability is Rs 525 crore at present against material component from the previous financial year.” The centre had released around Rs 608 crore in March-April. The amount was adjusted against the borrowings. “We have demanded `850 crore, which includes previous year’s liability and Rs 325 crore for expenditures till May. The amount is for material component and administrative expenditure,” he said, adding the centre has assured the release in May and June.
He said that from now on the wages would be directly paid by the centre through the National Electronic Fund Management System. He said, “MNREGS is the best drought relief. Till April on an average 18.5 lakh persons per day are provided jobs, this will increase to 30-40 lakh in May and June.”
Majdoor Kissan Shakti Sanghthan’s Shanker Singh said drought had also diverted a huge chunk of farmers and daily workers to the scheme.
Of 33 districts in Rajasthan, 19 are drought affected—Ajmer, Banswara, Baran, Barmer, Bhilwara, Chittorgarh, Churu, Dungarpur, Hanumangarh, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jalore, Jhunjhunu, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Pali, Rajsamand, Udaipur and Pratapgarh.
Man-days under the scheme has shown an increase by 42% (23.41crore) in comparison to 2014-15 (16.84crore), that is highest in last four years. Women man-days have increased by 40.5%, which reached to 1615.89 lakh from 1150.07 lakh in 2014-15.