nrEGS(Ntional Rural Employment Gurantee Act)
The National Rural Employment Generation Scheme is a recent employment scheme in India for providing 100 days guaranteed wage employment for all employment seekers above 18 years of age and willing to do work. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is an Indian law that aims to guarantee the 'right to work' and ensure livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.The statute is hailed by the government as "the largest and most ambitious social security and public works programme in the world".The more comprehensive survey of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, a ‘Supreme Audit Institution’ defined in Article 148 of the Constitution of India, reports serious lapses in implementation of the act.
The key objective of the act is not only to provide work and reduce unemployment, but also to curb the migration and provide guaranteed employment at the doorsteps. This would enable people not only to feed themselves and their families, but also to achieve a minimum standard of living. It is a tool for empowerment for rural laborers, guaranteed employment can give them economic security, strengthen their bargaining power, and help them to organize themselves. It is going to prove as a boon if implemented properly according to the provisions.
The Act envisages the following:
Enhance livelihood security of the rural poor by generating wage employment opportunities in works that develop the infrastructure base of that particular locality. Rejuvenate natural resource base of the area concerned. Create a productive rural asset base
Stimulate local economy for providing wage employment.
Ensure women empowerment.
Definition of a household
The operational guidelines of the NREGA detail a household as a nuclear family comprising mother, father and their children. In addition, a household refers to a single-member family. Despite this explanation, there is still a lot of confusion about the definition of this critical term. For instance, reports from Madhya Pradesh (Dhar district) show that gram panchayats treat joint families as one household, thus issuing them a single job card.
Distribution of job cards
According to data provided on the NREGA, the percentage of job cards issued to registered households varies across states. For some states like Maharashtra it stands at 12%, while for others such as Andhra Pradesh it is over 90%.
Non-availability of muster rolls at the worksite
It is rare indeed to find muster rolls at the worksites. Reports from across NREGA districts show that kutcha muster rolls/attendance sheets are being maintained by people at worksites. Rough notebooks and diaries are being used to mark attendance and make wage payments.
Presence of contractors
Like in many other rural development programmes, contractors are increasingly becoming a threat to the NREGA. Though this may not be very apparent on the surface, private contractors are slowly finding their way into the system. The Act clearly states (Schedule I, Section 11), that no contractor is permitted in the implementation of these projects. Yet, reports from Chhattisgarh and Orissa point towards this emerging problem.
Shortage of staff and delay in appointments
The Act's launch was not accompanied by the appointment of additional staff for its implementation. This has resulted in the existing staff being burdened with additional work. At the panchayat level, the guidelines specifically advised the appointment of a 'rozgar sevak'. Disappointingly, this has not yet been done. The lack of staff is having a negative impact on the workings of the NREGA. A survey in Jashpur block, Chhattisgarh, found that sub-engineers were...