Centre on Saturday released its share of funds to the tune of Rs 12,230 crore to the states for the rural job flagship scheme MGNREGA, days after the Supreme Court pulled it up for not releasing adequate funds for the scheme. Ministry sources said that this is the biggest amount for the scheme released in one go by the ministry. In a statement, Rural Development Birender Singh said his ministry has released a central share of Rs 12,230 crore to the states in connection with the implementation of its flagship programme Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. The Minister also underlined that this fund release will take care of the pending wage liability of the states for the previous financial Year (2015-16) and help the states to run the programme during the new financial year (2016-17). He said the government is committed to ensuring flow of adequate resources for fulfilling the programme objectives. The Supreme Court had on Wednesday pulled up the Centre for not releasing adequate funds to states for MGNREGA and asked it to give details of expenditure on the scheme in drought-hit states, saying relief has to be provided now and not after one year. “If you are not releasing the funds, then no one will like to work. States will say they have no funds, so they can’t pay anyone for MGNREGA work. No state will make any commitment to the people,” a bench headed by Justice M B Lokur had said. Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, had, then however, informed the bench that Rs 7983 crore will be released by the Centre in a couple of days towards wage liability, while Rs 2400 crore material liability will be cleared in June. She had said that Rs 2723 crore was being released as wage reliability for the drought affected states. The rural development minister also rebutted reports published in a section of media that there are arrears of wages of over Rs 8000 crore under MGNREGA for the 2015-2016 financial year. “In fact, the year 2015-16 has registered expenditure under MGNREGA to the tune of Rs 41,371 crore, which is the highest expenditure under the programme since its inception. Out of this expenditure Rs 30,139 crore has gone towards payment of wages. “This has allowed for the highest employment generation over the past three years and the best achievement on key parameters over the last three years such as works taken up, 55 per cent women participation and 95 per cent of payments through electronic fund management system,” the minister said.
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