The rural development ministry is expecting an additional allocation of Rs 10,000 crore towards its flagship Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) with a drought looming in several parts of the country.
The ministry was allocated Rs 60,000 crore in this year’s interim Budget of which more than Rs 25,000 crore has already been disbursed to the states.
“We have no pending payments as of now to the states,” said a senior government official.
The additional sums are likely to be allocated in the upcoming budget in July or in the first supplementary budget.
“We are closely monitoring the monsoon situation as it will have a direct impact on the demand for work. Our peak demand period will be post November-December when we will need extra funds,” the official added.
The 2019-20 labour budget of the rural development ministry has set a target of 2,582.1 million person days of which 640 million will be through the rural housing programme.
Drought proofing and water conservation activities will continue to be the main focus areas of the scheme.
The ministry is monitoring drought-related works such as renovation of traditional water bodies, micro-irrigation and water harvesting on a daily basis. For 2019-20 so far, the employment guarantee scheme had 115.2 million active workers and generated a total of 592.7 million person days of work.
Meanwhile, the rains reached the country after a delay of almost eight days on June 8, but thereafter, the progress hasn’t been satisfactory.
“Taking into account the region wise pre-monsoon deficiencies in the country for the same period, Northwest India is short by 40 per cent, while the deficiency in Central India – one of the wettest regions – is the maximum at 66 per cent,” said Jatin Singh, managing director of private weather forecasting agency, Skymet, in a statement.
Skymet said it believes that the situation may not change drastically in the next one week and it advised farmers to delay sowing Kharif crops for another one-two weeks, particularly in states like Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Around 40 per cent of the country is staring at drought-like conditions ahead of the monsoon as water levels have receded sharply.