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Budget 2023: MNREGA allocation slashed by 30%; protests rumble

Allocation was cut down from Rs 89,400 crore to just Rs 60,000 crore

Representative image | Reuters Representative image | Reuters

In what could be a political hot potato, the Union budget envisages a massive 33 per cent cut in the allocation of funds for the popular rural job scheme MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee) Act.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s budget proposes cutting down the funds allocated for the scheme from this year’s Rs 89,400 crore rupees to just Rs 60,000 crore.

Sitharaman had failed to mention the scheme and the cut in her speech. However, after noticing it in the full budget papers, opposition politicians have come out criticising the move. 

This is not the first time the Modi government has slashed down the flagship rural employment scheme that was launched when the Congress-led opposition Congress was in power under then prime minister Manmohan Singh. 

The scheme offers remuneration for rural populace for construction of rural infrastructure for work of at least 100 days a year. 

The allocation for financial year 2024 at 60,000 crore rupees is the lowest being allocated to this scheme in five years. In last budget, too, Sitharaman had tinkered with MNREGA, bringing the allocation down to 73,000 crore rupees. 

However it was later hiked to 89,400 crore rupees via supplementary grants following protests. 

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