MNREGA played key role in rural development: CPI

New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) With the Socio Economic and Caste Census revealing that 75 percent of rural households have the highest earning member with a salary less than Rs.5,000, CPI leader D. Raja said even this could not be possible if there was no rural employment guarantee act.

The rural employment guarantee act – Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) – was launched in 2006, when Left parties were supporting the ruling United Progressive Alliance.

“This government should not try to use these figures to say MNREGA is not effective. It was because of the scheme that even this income was recorded,” Raja told IANS. “The farmers are in distress. Agriculture is not generating money. The situation is worse for the farm labourers,” he said.

“There is unprecedented inequality in rural and urban income. This forces people to come to cities to work as labourers. The MNREGA only helped contain this migration,” the Communist leader said.

Raja blamed it on the “neo-liberal” and pro-corporate government policies. “The poor keeps getting poorer,” he said.

Raja also expressed apprehension that the government might use this as an excuse to further cut funds to MNREGA. “We needed to protect agriculture,” he said.

The findings of the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 for Rural India were released on Friday that also showed only 8.29 percent of the rural households reported a member who was drawing more than Rs.10,000 per month.

The census covered all the 640 districts in India.

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