Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday made an impassioned plea for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to be given utter importance and urged the Central government for proper allocation of Budget to the Act.
While speaking at the Lok Sabha she said, "MGNREGA, which was mocked by several people a few years ago, provided timely help to crores of affected poor families during COVID-19 and lockdown & played a positive role in saving the govt. Still, constant cuts are being made in the budgetary allocation for MGNREGA.
"This is weakening the legal guarantee of timely payment & jobs. This year's MGNREGA budget is 35 per cent less than that of 2020 even when unemployment is rising continuously. Due to cuts in the budget payment of workers gets delayed, Supreme Court has called this forced labour", Gandhi added.
"States were told that their yearly labour budget won't be approved unless they meet conditions related to social audit and appointment of Lokpal. Social audit should be made effective but labourers can't be punished by stopping the money for this, based on shortcomings"/
She urged the Modi government that proper allocation of Budget be done for MGNREGA. "Payment of wages be ensured for labourers within 15 days of work, in case of delay in payment compensation should be ensured legally and Annual Action Plan of states be determined without any delay", she said.