Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

Reaching out to the Rural Poor Mahatma Gandhi NREGS Shows the Way

Atul K. Tiwari** With the objective to enhance the livelihood security of people in rural areas by guaranteeing 100 days of wage-employment in a financial year to a rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act has made deep inroads into the lives of millions of rural poor. It has generated livelihood opportunities, raised productivity, increased the purchasing power, reduced distress migration and helped in creation of durable assets in rural India. The Act provides for certain categories of work to be taken up for providing employment to the job seeking rural. These include water conservation, drought proofing, irrigation, land development, rejuvenation of traditional water bodies, flood control and drainage work, rural connectivity and work on the land of SC/ST/BPL/IAY beneficiaries/land reform beneficiaries/ individual small and marginal farmers. The highlights of the Scheme are Allocation of funds for 2010-11 raised to Rs. 40,100 crores; Employment provided to 5.25 crore households; Real wages raised to Rs. 100 per day; Average wage rate per day has increased from Rs. 65 in 2006-07 to Rs.91 in 2009-10; 776.8 crore person days generated since 2006 , of which women comprise 50%, SCs 21% and STs 20% ; 69.5 lakh households(13.24%) have completed 100 days of work; Over 9.19 crore accounts(in banks &/ post offices) opened to give wages transparently; Rs. 21,625.18 crore (84% of wages) disbursed as wages through bank &post office accounts; Over 46.95 lakh works taken up in 619 districts and Social Audits conducted in 76% Panchayats. New Initiatives Entitlement of Rs. 100 as real wage under Mahatma Gandhi NREGA: The Government has revised the wage rate under Section 6(1) of NREG act subject to a ceiling of Rs. 100. In respect of States with higher wages, amount exceeding Rs. 100 would be paid by the State Governments from their own resources. Wage disbursement to Mahatma Gandhi NREGA workers through Banks/Post Office accounts has been made mandatory to ensure proper disbursement of wages to NREGA workers.Emphasis on works on individual land of small and marginal farmers particularly those belonging to SCs/STs and BPL. District Level Ombudsman Guidelines have been issued to states for Ombudsman at the district level. Ombudsmen will be well-known persons from civil society who have experience in the field of public administration, law, academics, social work or management. It will receive complaints from Mahatma Gandhi NREGA workers and others on any matters, consider such complaints and facilitate their disposal in accordance with law. Social Audits Gram Panchayats have been asked to organize Social Audits once in every six months. Social audits conducted so far in 2.43 lakh Gram Panchayats . National Level Monitors (NLMs) 37 National level Monitor were deputed in 37 districts in 15 states for special monitoring of the Social audit campaign. On line Monitoring The monitoring of Social Audit is online through the website which places all critical parameters such as job cards, muster rolls, wage payments, number of days of employment provided and works under execution online for monitoring and easy public access for information. Eminent Citizen Monitors 61 out of 100 Eminent Citizens have been identified so far as per the Guidelines of the Scheme for independent monitoring to Report on the progress of the scheme. Vigilance and Monitoring committees at State and District Level Vigilance & Monitoring Committees (V&MCs) have been re constituted in all States/UTs at State as well as District level for effective monitoring of the implementation of the programs including Mahatma Gandhi NREGA. National Helpline For Receipt Of Complaints A Toll free number 1800110707 set up to enable the workers and other persons to submit complaints and queries to the Government Helplines have also been set up in states like Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Goa. Unique Identification Development Authority of India (UIDA) To eliminate duplicate job cards, ghost beneficiaries while facilitating easy bank account opening, tracking the mobility of beneficiaries and ensuring a better monitoring of the system, use of ICT devices especially biometrics and integration with Unique Identification Development Authority of India has been introduced. Construction of Bharat Nirman Rajiv Gandhi Sewa Kendra Gram Panchayat Bhawans would be constructed in each Gram Panchayat and block .This will act as a centre for dissemination of knowledge and delivery of public services to rural households. 6% of the funds earmarked under the administrative head of the Scheme to be used to provide latest ICT facilities in Gram Panchayats within the permissible norms. Enlarging The Scope Of Works Permitted Schedule I, paragraph 1, sub para (iv) of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005, was amended on 22nd July, 2009, to include:“provision of irrigation facility, horticulture plantation and land development facilities to land owned by households belonging to the Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes or below poverty line families or to beneficiaries of land reforms or to the beneficiaries under the Indira Awas Yojana of Government of India or that of the small farmers or marginal farmers as defined in the Agriculture Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme, 2008.” Gram Panchayats while approving work plans have been asked under the Act, to ensure that works on lands of SC / ST and BPL receive first priority. Small and Marginal Farmers account for 80% of all land holdings and operate about 40% of all cultivated land. Permitting private works on lands of small & marginal farmers implies coverage of 40% of all cultivated area. Of the 142 million hectares of land under cultivation about 57 million hectares will come under ambit of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA works. Under the Schedule I, paragraph 1(g) of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 the scope of work under Mahatma Gandhi NREGA has been expanded to include the construction of Bharat Nirman Rajiv Gandhi Sewa Kendra (BNRGSK) at the Gram Panchayat and Block level. Work Under MGNREGA In Naxal Affected States The Government has issued instructions to all naxal affected States (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh) for implementation of MGNREGA to intensify awareness generation campaign among rural households, issuance of job cards, implementing sufficient number of works and timely payment of wages. Convergence Guidelines have been developed for convergence of the Mahatma Gandhi NREGS with different Schemes.115 convergence pilot projects have been instituted in 23 states under the monitoring of National Institute of Rural Development. Business Correspondent Model To ensure timely payment of wages to the workers ABCM was adopted in Rajasthan with the help of Central Bank of India. Strengthening Monitoring Mechanisms A Professional Institutional Network (PIN) has been constituted , including IITs, IIMs, ASCI, IIPA, IIFM agriculture universities and other professional institutions, for lending support to Mahatma Gandhi NREGA to conduct impact assessment and concurrent monitoring and appraisal. Some of the findings include increase in Agriculture Minimum Wages, wages earned per day, annual income, reduction in distress migration, effective targeting of marginalized groups SC/ST/BPL and use of MGNREGA as a supplementary income source during non-agricultural seasons. The productivity and multiplier effects of MGNREGA include improvement in ground water, improved agricultural productivity & cropping intensity, livelihood diversification in rural areas. It is hoped that the new Initiatives under Mahatma Gandhi NREGA will go a long way in ensuring transparency and accountability while reaching out to the last mile in the process making it an effective instrument of poverty alleviation on the road to sustainable development. PERFORMANCE OF THE MAHATMA GANDHI NREGA (National Overview ) FEATURES (FY 2006-07) 200 Districts (FY 2007-08) 330 Districts (FY 2008-09) 615 Districts (FY 2009-10) 619 Districts (FY 2010-11) 619 Districts Up to May-June, 2010 Employment provided to households: 2.10 Crore 3.39 Crore 4.51 Crore 5.25 Crore 1.79 crore Persondays [in crores]: Total: 90.5 143.59 216.32 282.57 43.91 SCs: 22.95 [25%] 39.36 [27%] 63.36 [29%] 86.30 [29%] 9.41[20%] STs: 32.98 [36%] 42.07[29%] 55.02 [25%] 58.74 [22%] 8.74[21%] Women: 36.40 [40%] 61.15 [43%] 103.57 [48%] 137.40 [50%] 21.77[50%] Others: 34.56 [38%] 62.16 [43%] 97.95 [45%] 137.69 [49%] 25.77[59%] Persondays per HH 43 days 42 days 48 days 47 days 24days Budget Outlay: (In Rs Crore) 11300 12000 30000 39,100 40,100 Expenditure (In Rs. Crore.) [percentage against available funds] 8823.35 [73%] 15856.89 [82%] 27250.10 [73%] 37397.06 [68%] 5627.85 Expenditure on Wages (In Rs. Crore.) 5842.37 [66%] 10738.47 [68%] 18200.03 [67%] 25633.67 [69%] 4437.34 Average Wage paid per Persondays 65 75 84 91 100 Total works taken up (In Lakhs): 8.35 17.88 27.75 46.01 52.98 Works completed: (In Lakhs): 3.87 8.22 12.14 20.94 0.33 Works break up: (In Lakhs) Water conservation: 4.51 [54%] 8.73 [49 %] 12.79 [46%] 18.23 [51%] 26.09 [52%] Provision of Irrigation facility to land owned by SC/ST/ BPL and IAY beneficiaries: 0.81 [10%] 2.63 [15 %] 5.67 [20%] 5.78 [17%] 4.77 [10%] Rural Connectivity: 1.80 [21%] 3.08 [17 %] 5.03 [18%] 5.77 [16%] 10.63 [21%] Land Development: 0.89 [11%] 2.88 [16%] 3.98 [ 15%] 4.99 [ 14%] 6.61[13%] Any other activity: 0.34 [4%] 0.56 [3%] 0.28 [1%] 0.81 [2%] 2.00 [4%] *Director(M & C), Press Information Bureau, New Delhi.

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