Government has stepped up the allocation for its flagship programme rural employment scheme NREGA by over 65 per cent to Rs 26,500 crore (Rs 265 billion).
The provision for additional Rs 10,500 crore (Rs 105 billion) was made in the first batch of supplementary demands for grant, which was approved by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
The amount has been provided, 'to meet the additional requirement of the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme,' stated the supplementary demand for grants.
The NREG Act 2005 provides a legal guarantee of at least 100 days of wage employment in every financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
The government implemented the Act in 200 districts in the country in the phase I of its implementation launched on February 2, 2006. It was to cover the remaining districts within a period of five years.
Under phase II, 130 additional districts were notified and brought under its ambit with effect from April 1, 2007.
Under the programme, so far 293.46 lakh jobs have been provided to households.
The additional grant assumes importance in the wake of unfolding financial events across the globe. The additional allocation would help in mitigating the impact of the resultant slowdown in the economy due to the current global financial crisis being witnessed in the world.
Earlier, while speaking in Parliament, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said the government had already stepped up the public expenditure in anticipation of a slowdown, which would now act as an 'important part of the solution' for the crisis.
"I am happy to note that it is now widely acknowledged that increased public expenditure is an important part of the solution. Our expenditure on education, health, NREGP, NRHM, AIBP, JNNURM and other programmes will, I believe, stand us in good stead in these difficult times," Singh had said in Lok Sabha.
The entire Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana would be subsumed in NREGA in the year 2008-09.