We released higher funds under NREGA: Government

New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) Contesting charges that the Centre was keen to dilute the spirit of the rural jobs scheme, a flagship programme of the previous Congress-led UPA regime, the government on Saturday claimed that “highest expenditure” has been made for MGNREGA in fiscal 2015-16.

The year 2015-16 has registered expenditure under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to the tune of Rs.41,371 crore, which is the “highest expenditure” under the programme since its inception, union Rural Development Minister Birender Singh said here on Saturday.

Dismissing charges from various quarters of arrears in wages of over Rs.8,000 crore under MGNREGA for 2015-2016, Singh said the Centre has already released its share of funds to the tune of Rs.12,230 crore to states for the rural jobs flagship scheme.

The minister said the funds will take care of the pending wage liability of the states for the previous financial year (2015-16) and help states run the programme during the new financial year (2016-17).

He said the government is committed to ensuring flow of adequate resources for fulfilling the programme objectives.

Singh also claimed the government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has brought “large scale” reforms in implementation of the programme in such a manner that it is oriented more towards combating agrarian distress and meet the demand for work in drought affected areas.

The effort is to “create durable and income generating assets mostly linked to augmentation of irrigation potential”.

In 2015-16, states were asked to provide employment where needed, particularly drought affected areas, with the assurance of making required resources available, he further said.

Singh maintained that in 2015-16, a sum of Rs.30,139 crore has gone towards payment of wages.

“This has allowed for the highest employment generation over the past three years and the best achievement on key parameters over the last three years,” he said.

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