Sonia Gandhi in her column in The Indian Express dished out a long piece of advice to the government, opining how MGNREGA can be used to mitigate the present situation. The crux of her argument is that MGNREGA was in great shape when UPA started it, but the NDA has undermined it now.
Our previous article How Modi Government Changed MNREGA Fortunes to Boost Rural Livelihood had explained at length how the scheme, riddled with corruption and inefficiency during UPA era, was revamped to bring transparency and asset creation under NDA government.
Now, the Ministry of Rural Development has shared some figures regarding MGNREGA at present which clearly show that even in the times of pandemic the scheme is effectively functioning.
- ₹1,01,500 crore allocated to MGNREGS in the current financial year 2020-2021, which is the highest ever provision of funds under the programme.
- A sum of ₹31,493 crore has already been released in 2020-2021, which is more than 50% of the budget estimate of the current Financial Year.
- A total of 60.80 crore person days has been generated so far and work has been offered to 6.69 crore persons.
- Average number of persons to whom work offered in May 2020 has been 2.51 crore per day, which is 73% higher than the work offered in May last year, which was 1.45 crore persons per day.
- 10 lakh works have been completed so far during the current Financial Year 2020-2021.
Care is now being taken to ensure that money reaches the right beneficiaries, and an asset is also created from the allocated work which boosts rural livelihood. The geo-tagging of MGNREGA works ensures this. A sustained focus is on taking up works related to water conservation and irrigation, plantation, horticulture and Individual Beneficiary works for livelihood promotion.
The two headlines below, the first one of the UPA tenure and the latter belonging to the NDA period, effectively tells who managed the scheme better.
It seems, more the Congress advertises its past schemes, more it reminds of its inefficiency of its rule.
Civil servant Amarjeet Sinha in his The Times of India article back in November 2019 had explained at length how the scheme has been overhauled in recent years. He pointed out that MGNREGS durable assets, livelihood and water conservation thrust, 90/95 days under PMAY-G for the poor, special focus on the poorest regions of the country have improved the lives and livelihoods of the poor.
Even when the Corona crisis started and the country went into the lockdown, the government first announced a 1.7 lakh crore package for the vulnerable. MGNREGA was taken into consideration at that initial stage also as the government announced increasing of daily wage to ₹202/day, monthly income shall be increased by ₹2,000, thus benefitting 5 crore people through DBT.
In the final tranche of the Economic relief, MGNREGA was once again used for addressing the concerns of migrants. An additional ₹40,000 crore under MGNREGS has been allocated. This move will help generate nearly 300 crore person days in total, and is expected to help migrants who returned to their villages.
The web edition of Sonia Gandhi’s column was titled as “This isn’t BJP vs Congress… use MNREGA to help people of India”. Alas! There is actually a case of BJP vs Congress when it comes to the efficiency of MGNREGA scheme. It has been quite clear now that why Sonia Gandhi’s Congress doesn’t want to discuss this proposition.