April 9:The Central government on Saturday released Rs.12,230 crore to the states for the rural jobs scheme, days after the Supreme Court rebuked the government for not ensuring adequate funds for the scheme.
According to a senior rural development ministry official, this is one of the largest amounts released for the scheme at one time by the ministry.
In a statement, rural development minister Birender Singh said this fund release will take care of the pending wage liability under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) of the states for the previous financial Year (2015-16) and help the states to run the programme during the new financial year (2016-17) .
“The government is committed to ensuring flow of adequate resources for fulfilling the programme objectives,” a rural development ministry statement quoted him as saying.
The Supreme Court had on Wednesday slammed the Central government for not releasing adequate funds to states for MGNREGS and asked it to give details of expenditure on the scheme in drought-hit states. Ten states of the country have been declared drought hit thanks to a bad monsoon in 2015-16. Rural distress is seen at a high given that this was the second consecutive year that the monsoons had failed.
“If you are not releasing the funds, then no one will like to work. States will say they have no funds, so they can’t pay anyone for MGNREGS work. No state will make any commitment to the people,” a bench headed by Justice M.B. Lokur had said, according to news reports.
Additional solicitor general Pinky Anand, had at that time informed the bench thatRs.7983 crore will be released by the Centre in a couple of days towards wage liability, while Rs.2400 crore material liability will be cleared in June. She had said that Rs.2723 crore was being released as wage reliability for the drought affected states.
The rural development minister also rejected news reports that there were arrears of wages of over Rs.8000 crore under MGNREGS for the 2015-2016 financial year. “In fact, the year 2015-16 has registered expenditure under MGNREGS to the tune ofRs.41,371 crore, which is the highest expenditure under the programme since its inception. Out of this expenditure Rs.30,139 crore has gone towards payment of wages.
“This has allowed for the highest employment generation over the past three years and the best achievement on key parameters over the last three years such as works taken up, 55% women participation and 95% of payments through electronic fund management system,” the minister said.