The Centre has transferred cash in the accounts of poor across the country under various welfare schemes during the lockdown utilising 14 per cent of the rural development ministry's total budget within first month of the fiscal to ease the troubles faced by them, Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on Tuesday.
Sharing details of the measures taken by the Centre in the wake of the lockdown imposed to check the spread of coronavirus, the rural development minister said the government has cleared all pending payments of beneficiaries under the employment guarantee scheme of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
"Government has cleared all pending payments of Rs 7,300 crore to beneficiaries under MGNREGA. Rural development ministers from various states thanked me for the same saying that it was much needed during this time of crisis," Tomar said.
To kick-start the work under MGNREGA after the lockdown is lifted, the government has already prepared plans and states have also submitted their work plans, he said.
The wages under the employment guarantee Act have been increased and now the national average wage is Rs 202 per person per day as against Rs 182 earlier.
Individual-oriented work under MGNREGA such as that carried out by beneficiaries belonging to SCs and STs themselves and small and marginal farmers on their own land may continue, he said.
Similarly, the work done by women who are bread-earners of their families on their own land may also continue during the lockdown, the minister said.
All these works are allowed as they don't violate the norms of social distancing, he said.
A sum of Rs 500 per account has been transferred to 20.39 crore women account holders of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, which amounts to nearly Rs 10,000 crore.
Similarly, Rs 800 crore has been distributed among beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana.
The first instalment of the two such payments of Rs 500 ex gratia as promised under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana is being transferred in the accounts of 2.82 crore beneficiaries such as widows, senior citizens and the differently-abled.
This payment is over and above the monthly pension given to these beneficiaries under the National Social Assistance Programme.
Within first month of the 2020-21 financial year, the rural development ministry has utilised 14 per cent of its total budget and has expedited the payments to ease the pain faced by the poor across the country due to the lockdown, he said.
Besides cash, the poor are also receiving grains so that they don't face any troubles and observe the lockdown amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced that the lockdown across the country will be extended till May 3 to fight the coronavirus pandemic, saying the measure has produced a significant outcome in containing the infection.
He had earlier announced a 21-day lockdown from March 25.