The Government announced a new scheme -- ‘Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes’ (MISHTI) in the Union Budget under which plantation along the coastline will be taken up for which funds from Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme (MGNREGS) will also be utilised. However, there has been a 33 per cent reduction in the outlay under MNREGA.

“Building on India’s success in afforestation, MISHTI will be taken up for mangrove plantation along the coastline and on salt pan lands, wherever feasible, through convergence between MGNREGS, CAMPA Fund, and other sources,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday.

But, MGNREGS has received an allocation of ₹60,000 crore for 2023-24, against ₹89,400 crore in current fiscal (RE). The actual expenditure for it was ₹98467.85 7 crore in 2021-22.

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The Economic Survey has stated that the number of persons demanding work under MGNREGS is back to the pre-pandemic levels from July to November 2022. The survey attributed it to the “normalisation of the rural economy” and “swift recovery from Covid-19 induced slowdown”. It also said that MGNREGS has been directly providing jobs in rural areas and indirectly creating opportunities for rural households to diversify their sources of income generation.

The scheme provides guaranteed 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to at least one member of every household. It also earmarks at least one-third of jobs for women.

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In FY23, as on 24 January 2023, 6.49 crore households demanded employment under MGNREGS, and 6.48 crore households were offered employment out of which 5.7 crore availed employment.

The number of works done under MGNREGS has steadily increased over the years, with 85 lakh completed works in FY22 and 70.6 lakh completed works so far in FY23 (as on January 9, 2023), according to the Survey.

Regarding the composition of works, the share of “works done on individual’s land” (included in the permissible work list in 2009 and expanded since then) has increased from 16 per cent of the total completed works in FY15 to 73 per cent in FY22. These works include creating household assets, such as animal sheds, farm ponds, dug wells, horticulture plantations, vermicomposting pits etc., in which the beneficiary gets both labour and material costs as per standard rates.

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Empirically, within a short span of 2-3 years, these assets have been observed to have a significant positive impact on agricultural productivity, production-related expenditure, and income per household, along with a negative association with migration and fall in indebtedness, especially from non-institutional sources.

Meanwhile, Rural Development Ministry has been allocated ₹1,57,545 crore for 2023-24, which is 13 per cent lower than ₹1,81,121.80 crore in current fiscal (RE).