A section of prominent citizens came together on Wednesday to appeal to the NDA led government to seek increased allocation of funds for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) and ensuring no dilution of the scheme.
The People's Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG) led by Aruna Roy pointed out that the government's decision to amend the schedule of MGNREGA by changing the material- labour ratio from 60:40 to 51:49 will lead to a sharp fall of 40 per cent in employment generated and a loss of income for over five crore households in the country.
Labour-Material ratio is the ratio of wage costs to material costs and the act lays out that the ratio be fixed at 60:40. "Senior Ministry officials make it clear that this decision would run counter to the spirit of the act and that past experience has shown that such material intensive works brought benami contractors, which resulted in corruption and their ultimate deterioration, Aruna Roy said.
The new government had been focusing on implementing the scheme in 2,500 backward blocks under its Intensive Participatory Planning Exercise. The blocks were identified based on percentage of population below poverty line (BPL) as per the Planning commission estimates of 2013, and a backwardness index prepared by the Planning Commission using the 2011 Census data.
The group has also demanded that the budgetary allocations of MGNREGA be based on generation of demand and enhanced in line with the rate of inflation. With UPA-II government
tightening spending in its last years, MGNREGA allocation was reduced from Rs. 40,100 crore in 2010-11 to Rs 33,000 crore in 2013-14. The government has so far spent 2.6 lakh crore on the project since its inception.