Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday expressed concern over the budget cuts for MGNREGA, claiming that several states had a negative balance of Rs 5,000 crore in their accounts which led to delays in payment of workers.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Gandhi requested the government to make adequate allocations to MGNREGA, a project that assisted the government during the COVID-19 epidemic and ensured payment within 15 days.
Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh and INDB Minister Anurag Tagore have attacked Gandhi, accusing him of politicizing the issue and claiming that his comments are far from the truth.
“The issue raised by the Hon’ble Member is far from the truth. The budget allocation for MGNREGA for 2013-14 (UPA year) was Rs 33,000 crore, whereas under Prime Minister Narendra Modi it has reached Rs 1.12 lakh crore. There is no need to show our mirror,” Singh said. .
Gandhi said that MGNREGA, which was ridiculed by some, provided timely assistance to millions of poor families affected by the epidemic and played a positive role in helping the government. There is still a regular reduction in the budget allocation for MGNREGA MGNREGA’s budget this year is 35 percent lower than in 2020. It comes at a time when unemployment is on the rise, he said. Gandhi said the budget cuts were undermining timely payments and legal guarantees of employment. He noted that the Supreme Court had compared the delay in payment of MGNREGA to forced labor.
Gandhi said states were told that their annual labor budgets would not be approved unless they met the conditions of social audit and appointment of ombudsmen. He said that social audit should be carried out but the workers could not be punished by stopping the money for this. I urge the central government to allocate adequate funds for MGNREGA, to ensure that workers are paid within 15 working days and to compensate for delays in payment of wages, ”Gandhi said.
In response to Gandhi, Tagore alleged that there was widespread corruption in the MGNREGA project under the UPA government, which was ousted by the Modi government. He said that under Prime Minister Modi, geo-tagging of assets created under MGNREGA was introduced and workers were paid directly into their public wealth accounts.
Members of Congress rose to their feet in protest of the remarks made by Singh and Thakur targeting the UPA. As the commotion continued, Tagore said it was ironic to criticize the opposition if a Union Minister reacted immediately to an issue raised by Gandhi.
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