New Delhi.The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) Allocations have been hiked by 144% to Rs.39,100 crore in the proposed Union Budget for the financial Year 2009-10. The beneficiaries would henceforth be entitled for a minimum wage of Rs. 100 per day under NREGA. This was announced by the Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee while presenting the Union Budget in the Lok Sabha today. it is expected to benefit a large number of rural poor by augmenting the wage employment and helping them to live with dignity.
Launched on 2nd February,2006 from the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh in 200 districts of the country NREGA, one of the flagship schemes of the Government has now been extended to all the 614 districts across the country. It has provided employment opportunities to more than 4.479 crore households in 2008-09. The act envisages providing of 100 days employment to one member of each rural family residing below poverty line. Unique features of the Act include, time bound employment guarantee and wage payment within 15 days, incentive-disincentive structure to the State Governments for providing employment as 90 per cent of the cost for employment provided is borne by the Centre or payment of unemployment allowance at their own cost and emphasis on labour intensive works prohibiting the use of contractors and machinery. The Act also mandates 33 percent participation for women.
The primary objective of NREGA is to augment wage employment besides strengthening the natural resource management through works that address causes of chronic poverty like drought, deforestation and soil erosion and to encourage sustainable development. It was introduced in 200 districts in 2006-07 and extended to 130 additional districts in 2007-08 before being expanded all over the country from 2008-09. During the first year of implementation (FY 2006-07) in 200 districts, 2.10 crore households were employed and 90.5 crore persondays were employed. In 2007-08, 3.39 crore households were provided employment and 143.59 crore person days were generated in 330 districts. In 2008-2009, 4.47 crore households have been provided employment and 215.63 crore persondays have been generated across the country.
At the National Level, average wage paid under NREGA has increased from Rs.65 (FY 2006-07) to Rs.84 in FY 08-09(provisional). The enhanced wage earnings have led to a strengthening of the livelihood resource base of the rural poor in India; in 2007-2008, more than 68% of funds utilised (Rs.10,738.47 crore as wage expenditure) were in the form of wages paid to the labourers. In 2008-2009, 67% of the funds have been utilized in the form of wages (Rs.18146.63 crore as wage expenditure in FY 2008-09). The Central Government has been encouraging the state governments to make wage payment through bank and post office accounts of wage seekers and over 7 crore accounts have been opened in banks and post offices throughout the country to disburse the wages. The Act implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development directly touches the lives of the poor and promotes inclusive growth