New Delhi: The central government on Wednesday approved an extra 50 days of work for farmers/workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGs).
The union cabinet, at a meeting here, decided that farmers hit by the deficient monsoon this kharif season would now get to work for a total of 150 days under MNREGS.
The rural employment guarantee scheme earlier provided for 100 days of unskilled manual work for registered farmers.
"The government had decided to increase the number of working days...from 100 to 150 in order to alleviate the economic stress arising out of the second straight year of drought ravaging the country," Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said at a press conference.
In the wake of deficient rainfall in many parts of the country, the agriculture ministry too had on Monday announced measures including allocation of additional days of work under the rural job guarantee scheme, diesel subsidies and enhanced ceiling on seed subsidy to provide relief to farmers.
"To provide immediate relief to the farmers, in view of the deficit monsoon during Kharif 2015, the government of India has taken a number of decisions. Orders on these measures have been issued to all state governments, which would implement them on the basis of assessed need," the agriculture ministry had said in a statement on Monday.
"The poorest rural households will benefit, as it will help in immediate absorption of rural seasonal unemployment, and reduce rural distress," the statement said.
The farmers would also be provided a diesel subsidy of Rs.2,000 per hectare to offset the cost of diesel used for pumping water in areas where the rainfall deficit is more than 50 percent.
Moreover, the government has raised the ceiling on seed subsidy by 50 percent over the existing levels for distribution in the drought-hit areas.
The states have also been advised to initiate advance remedial actions and keep aside about 5 to 10 percent of fund allocated under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) for taking interventions to minimize the impact of deficit rainfall, the statement said.
Other measures taken by the government include sending SMS advisories, on weather and measures to minimise adverse impact of extreme weather event, to registered farmers.
The government has also released the first installment of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to the state governments.
MGNREGS, which came into effect on September 7, 2005, provides employment within 15 days of application, failing which the government provides daily unemployment allowance.