Prime Minister Narendra Modi (in 2015) had called the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREA) as a ‘living monument of failures’ of the UPA government. But today at this timeout crisis, the government has depended on the same scheme to provide direct employment to the migrant workers who are hurt due to Coronavirus-induced lockdown.
In the fifth and the last tranche of Rs 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced an additional allocation of Rs 40,000 crore under MGNREA. This is in addition to Rs 61,000 crore already announced in the Budget.
Through this move, the BJP-led government has proven the scheme is not all that bad. If it was bad, the question is why would they pump in money in a failed scheme.
During the economic package announcement, she said the government will also provide work to the migrant workers during the monsoon season. Through the move, the government has been able to generate nearly 300 crore person days in total.
Post the additional allocation announcement for under this scheme, Twitterati went into a frenzy. Below are a few tweets.
In 2016 again, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar told the Lok Sabha that the Narendra Modi-led government was “not in favour of continuing with” MGNREA. Even after five years of that statement, the present government has not been able to kill this scheme. Since then, a lot has changed, BJP-government called for the revival of the scheme and every budget, there has been the allocation of funds under the scheme.
Few things about MGNREA
This social security measure was implemented in the year 2006. But was first proposed in 1991.
The World Development Report 2014 has praised the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
It is implemented mainly by gram panchayats (GPs) and the involvement of contractors is banned.
A major criticism around this act is that a lot of money disbursed by the government gets siphoned off.
At present, the BJP-led government is trying to fix the leaks in this scheme.