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Centre’s outreach to rural India can relieve distress

The funds allocated to the job scheme have not declined.

india Updated: Mar 16, 2018 08:01 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rural spending,Rural India,MGNREGS
A response from the ministry of rural development has argued that the efficacy of the MGNREGS should be judged from the first indicator i.e. percentage share of households which have been offered employment. (HT File Photo)

Budgetary allocations for MGNREGS, the flagship rural job guarantee scheme, have either gone up or remained constant under the present government.

The question is whether the scheme is being able to achieve its objective. There are three indicators to assess this: share of households that are offered employment against demand, share of households which are provided employment against demand and average number of days of employment given to a household. Data from the ministry of rural development shows that the first indicator has always been above 99%.

This shows that the original objective of providing employment to people who demand it in rural areas is being met.

However, there has been some decline in the figures for households that have been provided employment against demand in the last two years. The average number of days of employment given per household has varied each year (See Chart 1).

To be sure, final numbers for the fiscal year 2017-18 could be different from the current figures.

A response from the ministry of rural development has argued that the efficacy of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) should be judged from the first indicator i.e. percentage share of households which have been offered employment.

This is because a household might also decide to not take up the employment that is offered under the scheme.

The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G), the government’s rural housing scheme, was launched on November 20, 2016.

It has taken an ambitious target of constructing 10 million rural houses by March 2019. Of these, 5.1 million houses were to be constructed by March 2018 and another 5.1 million by March 2019. Till March 14, 2018, 3.2 million houses have been constructed under the scheme. This figure includes completion of five lakh incomplete houses under the previous Indira Awaas Yojana also.

The ministry says that given the current per day completion rates of houses, the total number would be very close to the target of 5.1 million for March 31, 2018. The total number of houses constructed under all central government schemes between 2014-15 and 2017-18 is 9.4 million.

While there is a reduction of Rs 2,000 crore in the fund allocated to the scheme in this year’s budget, the total expenditure is expected to increase to Rs 33,000 crore due to an extra budgetary allocation of Rs 12,000 crore.

The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), the rural roads scheme, has a target of connecting 44,865 habitations through building 1.56 lakh kilometres of roads between 2014-15 and 2017-18.

Data till March 14, 2018, shows that cumulative road construction target from 2014-15 onwards has already been achieved. The ministry has said that the scheme is on track to achieve its target of providing all-weather connectivity to 500 plus habitations in plain areas and 250 plus habitations in hilly areas. Road construction figures for 2016-17 were the highest in the period from 2012-13 (See Chart 2).

Given the current state of work in progress, the ministry expects to meet this year’s targets as well.

The funding pattern under PMGSY underwent a change from November 2015.

Now states share 40% of the total expenditure under the scheme in plain areas. The figure is 10% for hilly areas and special category states. In absolute terms, Rs 9,000 crore is currently available with the states for the scheme. This means that the total spending on the scheme is likely to be much more than Rs 19,000 crore and Rs 16,900 crore which has been allocated under the central budget.

First Published: Mar 16, 2018 07:52 IST