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Sansad TV: Milestones Series- MGNREGA

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Introduction:

Mahatma Gandhi NREGA is a powerful instrument for inclusive growth in rural India. The mandate of the MGNREGA is to provide at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

MGNREGA:

The scheme was introduced in 2005 as a social measure that guarantees “the right to work”.

  • The key tenet of this social measure and labour law is that the local government will have to legally provide at least 100 days of wage employment in rural India to enhance their quality of life.

 Key objectives:

  • Generation of paid rural employment of not less than 100 days for each worker who volunteers for unskilled labour.
  • Proactively ensuring social inclusion by strengthening the livelihood base of rural poor.
  • Creation of durable assets in rural areas such as wells, ponds, roads and canals.
  • Reduce urban migration from rural areas.
  • Create rural infrastructure by using untapped rural labour.

The following are the eligibility criteria for receiving the benefits under MGNREGA scheme:

  • Must be Citizen of India to seek MGNREGA benefits.
  • Job seeker has completed 18 years of age at the time of application.
  • The applicant must be part of a local household (i.e. application must be made with local Gram Panchayat).
  • Applicants must volunteer for unskilled labour.

Implementation of the scheme:

  • Within 15 days of submitting the application or from the day work is demanded, wage employment will be provided to the applicant.
  • Right to get unemployment allowance in case employment is not provided within fifteen days of submitting the application or from the date when work is sought.
  • Social Audit of MGNREGA works is mandatory, which lends to accountability and transparency.
  • The Gram Sabha is the principal forum for wage seekers to raise their voices and make demands.

Role of Gram Sabha:

  • It determines the order of priority of works in the meetings of the Gram Sabha keeping in view potential of the local area, its needs, local resources.
  • Monitor the execution of works within the GP.

Roles of Gram Panchayat:

  • Receiving applications for registration
  • Verifying registration applications
  • Registering households
  • Issuing Job Cards (JCs)
  • Receiving applications for work
  • Issuing dated receipts for these applications for work

Responsibilities of State Government in MGNREGA:

  • Frame Rules on matters pertaining to State responsibilities under Section 32 of the Act ii) Develop and notify the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme for the State.
  • Set up the State Employment Guarantee Council (SEGC).
  • Set up a State level MGNREGA implementation agency/ mission with adequate number of high calibre professionals.
  • Set up a State level MGNREGA social audit agency/directorate with adequate number of people with knowledge on MGNREGA processes and demonstrated commitment to social audit.
  • Establish and operate a State Employment Guarantee Fund (SEGF).

Need for reforms:

  • Demand for work under MGNREGA scheme has dropped.
  • The highest demand for work under the scheme was seen in States which are usually the destination of migrant workers, rather than source States.

Challenges:

  • There has always been a hike in the revised estimate over the budget estimate in the past.
  • Delay in the release of funds.
  • Wide disparity in the wage rate between one state to another.
  • Fake job cards, widespread corruption and late uploading of muster rolls.

Way Forward:

  • MGNREGA should be converged with other schemes of the government. For example, Green India initiative, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan etc.
  • There has been a delay in the completion of works under MGNREGA and inspection of projects has been irregular. Also, there is an issue of quality of work and asset creation under MGNREGA.
  • There is a need to strengthen the demand-driven aspects of MGNREGA through a focus on local level social audits, funding and tracking of outcomes.
  • State governments must ensure that public work gets started in every village. Workers turning up at the worksite should be provided work immediately, without much delay.