Shifting the focus away from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Union Budget has sought to give greater thrust to it other flagship programme Bharat Nirman, covering six sectors, by allocating an additional Rs. 10,000 crore for 2011-12 to provide rural broadband connectivity to all the 2.5 lakh panchayats within the next three years.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has made a total allocation of Rs. 58,000 crore, marking a Rs. 10,000 crore increase, to give an impetus to Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna(PMGSY), Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme, Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana, Indira Awas Yojana, National Rural Drinking Water Programme and Rural Telephony schemes under the Bharat Nirman programme.
The government has allocated Rs. 8,996 crore under the Indira Awas Yojna (IAY) for construction of houses for BPL families in the Left Wing Extremist (LWE) districts.
Mr. Mukherjee has reduced the eligibility criteria for availing Rs. 200 per month under the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) for Below Poverty Line (BPL) to 60 years from 65 years.
He has also raised the pension to Rs. 500 for those above the age of 80.
However, no increase as been proposed under MGNREGA ignoring the plea of the Ministry of Rural Development (MORD) for an allocation of Rs. 60,000 crore, an increase of Rs. 20,000 crore from 2010-2011 fiscal year.
The MORD had sought increased allocation in the wake of the raise in the wage rate of MGNREGA workers following its linkage with the Consumer Price Index for Agricultural Labour (CPIAL) last month.