The Parliamentary Committee on Rural Development and Panchayati Raj has criticized the government's decision to reduce the allocation for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), warning that it could severely hamper the program's rural employment initiatives. The panel expressed dissatisfaction with the Department of Rural Development's lack of explanation for the budget cut and highlighted the pending liabilities in wages and material components under MGNREGA.
In its report presented in the Lok Sabha, the committee pointed out the steep reduction of Rs 29,400 crore from the revised estimates stage of FY 2022-23. The panel urged the Department of Rural Development to realistically assess the demand for jobs under MGNREGA and press the Ministry of Finance for increased allocation to the scheme, given its increased demand in recent years, as PTI reported.
The committee expressed concern that the lack of funds could disrupt the timely payment of wages and material expenses, leading to stalled projects and creating hardships for rural workers who rely on MGNREGA for livelihood. The delay in wage payments and material fund release was deemed a deterrent to the beneficiaries in need.
Furthermore, the panel criticized the Department of Rural Development for its "stereotypical" and "routine" response, stating that it failed to provide a concrete mode of action to address the probable dearth of funds. The committee emphasized the need for the department to handle the fund-related aspect of MGNREGA through informed financial pragmatism and better coordination with the Ministry of Finance for timely allocation at the budget estimates stage each year.
The parliamentary committee recommended that the Department of Rural Development ensure the timely release of the Centre's shares in wages and materials by implementing effective measures and improving coordination with the states. It urged the department to take concrete actions to reduce and eliminate pending liabilities, facilitating smoother implementation of MGNREGA and providing much-needed relief to rural workers.