Provides 50 days additional work under rural employment scheme

The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on Drought on Tuesday decided to provide an additional 50 days of guaranteed work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to registered households and cut the interest rate on crop loan to 7 per cent (from 10 to 12 per cent) for one year in the ‘notified’ drought-affected talukas in four States.

Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat have together declared more than 350 talukas as drought affected due to delayed/erratic South West Monsoon this kharif season.

The panel, headed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, asked the Ministries concerned to take steps for speedy release of funds for drinking water.

According to a source privy to the decisions, the Rural Development Ministry proposed that the guaranteed work days be raised to 150 days from 100 days under the MGNREGA for the already registered households in notified talukas/blocks. This was accepted by the EGoM.

Normally, during a natural calamity like drought, when farmers either have to re-sow or do not get a robust harvest, crop loans get converted into term loans for a longer period of five years with a 12 per cent interest. The EGoM decided to give interest relief to farmers only in the first year, against the Agriculture Ministry’s proposal for interest subvention on crop loans for five years. It suggested that the Ministry take the proposal for a five-year interest subvention to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs for approval.

A proposal for enhancing funds under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna for minor and micro-irrigation projects could not be taken up as Finance Minister P. Chidambaram was not present at the meeting.

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