EGoM to consider raising MNREGA work days to 150

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of drought in various parts of the country, a proposal to raise the number of assured employment days under MNREGA from 100 to 150 will be considered by an Empowered Group of Ministers next week with an aim of benefitting the farm labour.

"The proposal to increase work days under Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MNREGA) scheme, will come up for discussion in the meeting of the empowered group of ministers (EG0M) on drought scheduled next week," a source privy to the development said.

"Treating this year as a special case in view of drought declared in the four states, the inter-ministerial group would consider this proposal to provide relief to the rural population especially the farm workers," he added.

MNREGA assures 100 days of work every year to each household in rural areas. Generally, people avail of the benefit under the scheme during the off-season of agriculture.

The government has provided Rs 33,000 crore to implement the scheme this fiscal, as against Rs 31,000 crore in 2011-12.

The EGoM on drought, headed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, would also discuss other proposals such as a special package for protective irrigation to save orchard crops, the source said.

Monsoon deficit is 12 per cent so far and four-states – Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan – have declared drought in more than 390 taluks.

In the last EGoM, the government had announced mitigation measures such as diesel subsidy, enhanced ceiling on subsidies on seeds and channelised funds under various schemes to boost drinking water and fodder supply for livestock.

The four states have sought relief funds to mitigate the impact of drought and the central teams have been constituted to visit these states to assess the situation, Pawar had informed Parliament last week.

Poor monsoon has affected sowing of kharif (summer) crops with total area lagging behind at 95.43 million hectare so far from 101.5 million hectare in the year-ago period.