Key job guarantee and livelihood schemes set to get increased budget allocation, a decision influenced by the crisis in the farm sector.
New Delhi: The rural development ministry is likely to get a mammoth allocation of more than Rs 1.07 lakh crore in the last full budget of the Modi government.
Sources in the ministry told ThePrint that the flagship Mahtama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) might get around Rs 55,000 crore, a more than-14 per cent hike from the 2017-18 budget estimate of Rs 48,000 crore, which was the highest allocation for the scheme since its inception.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been trying to shed its ‘pro-rich’ image, for which it is often criticised by the opposition and making efforts to cater to the rural constituency. The farm crisis in several parts of the country is also likely to push the BJP government to increasingly woo rural voters.
In FY 2016-17, MGNREGA had an initial budget allocation of Rs 38,500 crore, which increased to Rs 47,499 crore in subsequent revisions.
MGNREGA, introduced in February 2006, promises a 100 days of employment to every rural household in each financial year.
“MGNREGA is likely to get around Rs 55,000 crore. This is what the mid-term expenditure framework also suggests,” a senior ministry official told ThePrint, speaking on condition of anonymity. “But given it is a demand driven scheme, fund allocations can increase in the course of the year based on demand and labour budgets submitted by states.”
This year, around 89 per cent of the total MGNREGA funds have been utilised so far. Allocations for this popular scheme under this government assume significance given the BJP was accused of attempting to dilute the scheme when it came to power and cut its funding.
Officials say the ministry’s main thrust in the coming year would be on enhancing livelihoods through its signature scheme, National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM). The scheme’s allocation is likely to go up to over Rs 5,500 crore from 2017-18’s budget funding of Rs 4,500 crore.
The BJP-led NDA government’s emphasis has been on the rural housing scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin). PMAY (G) had received Rs 23,000 crore in the last budget and will get Rs 21,000 crore to meet the remaining part of the total planned allocation required for the target of 1 crore houses by 2019.
Another important scheme is the rural roads programme, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) with a budget of Rs 19,000 crore, which is expected to remain largely the same.
Officials say, overall, they hope to see MoRD, including both the departments of rural development and land resources, get a total allocation of around Rs 1,14,000 crore.