NEW DELHI: The Centre told Lok Sabha on Wednesday it was not in favour of continuing with the MGNREGA scheme forever as it was for the poor and Modi government’s larger goal was to eradicate poverty. “I’m not in favour of continuing with MGNREGA forever. Because it is for the poor and the government wants to eradicate poverty from India and is working in this direction,” Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar said while replying to a marathon discussion on ‘demands for grants’ for rural development and agriculture ministries. As many as 131 members had participated in the discussion on Tuesday in the lower House which sat till midnight. Allaying concerns expressed by various members that allocation under MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) had been cut in this year’s budget, Tomar said the overall budgetary allocation has, in fact, been increased from Rs 55,000 crore in 2018-19 to Rs 60,000 crore 2019-20. “Further expenditure, if required, will be provided through the revised estimate,” he said. “We have improved MGNREGA scheme to make it more people friendly. Now, under the scheme, 99% of labourers are getting wages directly in their bank accounts. There is no middleman and broker,” he said. Referring to Rs 2 lakh crore loan given to self-help groups which have been providing livelihood to more than 5 crore women across the country, he suggested that big corporates could learn from women SHGs as they had only 2.9% NPAs. “The entire House knows about NPAs of big people (corporate houses) whereas women’s self-help groups have only 2.9% NPAs and are ensuring employment for poor women in rural areas,” he said. Talking about Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, the minister said 1.25 lakh kilometres of road would be built in the third phase of PMGSY at an estimated cost of Rs 80,000 crore and these roads would be completed by 2024-25.
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