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At the beginning of this month, several Members of the Parliament, activists, former bureaucrats, academics and leaders of farmers’ movements wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister to highlight the chronic underfunding of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). By the end of December, 99 per cent of the central government’s NREGA fund for 2018-19 was exhausted. Within a few days of this letter, the central government announced a supplementary budget of Rs 6,084 for the ongoing financial year. This will increase the total NREGA budget for the 2018-19 to Rs 61,084.

The supplementary budget is too little, too late. But it seems that the central government is yet to release even this amount. According to the official NREGA website (nrega.nic.in), the total central release so far is only Rs 53,353 cr.[1] Including the state share, the total availability of funds is Rs 59,709 cr, whereas the total expenditure so far is Rs 63,537 cr. Thus, there is a deficit of Rs 3,828 cr.[2] On 25 January 2019, Jharkhand Government wrote to the Ministry to request for additional funds to clear a liability of Rs 39 cr. The letter also mentions that “no funds have been released to Ne-FMS account for last two days (i.e. 24th & 25th Jan, 2019)”. This also exposes the claims of the Ministry that the Ne-FMS mechanism has streamlined the fund flow to the states.

Eighty one per cent of the Fund Transfer Orders (FTOs) of January 2019 and 43 per cent of FTOs of February 2018 (and some FTOs of previous months) remain unprocessed by the Ministry of Rural Development.[3] In violation to Supreme Court orders, NREGA workers will not receive compensation for the delays in wage payments caused due to the delays in processing of the FTOs.

NREGA Sangharsh Morcha demands that the central government immediately releases funds to clear pending liabilities and ensure adequate funds for the remaining two months of the financial year.

For further information, please write at nrega.sangharsh.morcha@gmail.com or contact Abhay Kumar (9845371493), Anuradha Talwar (9433002064), Arundhati Dhuru (9919664444), Gangaram Paikra (9977462084), Kamayani Swami (9771950248), Mukesh Nirvasat (9468862200), Neeta Hardikar (9825412387), Nirmala Tammineni (9848930031) and Richa Singh (9452232663).

[1] http://mnregaweb4.nic.in/netnrega/all_lvl_details_dashboard_new.aspx

[2] http://mnregaweb4.nic.in/netnrega/Citizen_html/financialstatement.aspx?lflag=eng&fin_year=2018-2019&source=national&labels=labels&Digest=2sK2jsi9G7FHeqD/Cv4G1Q

[3] http://mnregaweb4.nic.in/netnrega/pfms_response_nefms.aspx?lflag=eng&fin_year=2018-2019&source=national&labels=labels&Digest=2sK2jsi9G7FHeqD%2fCv4G1Q

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