Right to Work (MG-NREGA)
According to Progress in providing employment for the poor: The national public works programme in India (2010) by Rebecca Holmes, Jenny Morgan and Jessica Hagen-Zanker, Overseas Development Institute, http://www.developmentprogress.org/sites/default/files/ind
According to the Annual Report 2009-2010 of the Ministry of Rural Development, http://rural.nic.in/annualrep0910/anualreport0910_eng.pdf:
• In 2009-2010, upto December 2009, an amount of Rs. 18950 crore has been utilized out of Rs. 39,100 crore, during the same period 160 crore persondays employment has been generated across the country. At the national level, average wage paid under MGNREGA has increased from Rs.65 (FY 2006-07) to Rs. 88.48 in FY 2009-10. In FY 2009-10, 36.51 lakhs works were undertaken, of which 51% constituted water conservation, 16% rural connectivity, 14% land development and provision of irrigation facility to individual beneficiaries constituted around 17%.
• During the first year of implementation (FY 2006-07) in 200 districts, 2.10 crore households were employed and 90.5 crore persondays were generated. In 2007-08, 3.39 crore households were provided employment and 143.59 crore persondays were generated in 330 districts. In 2008-09, 4.51 crore households have been provided employment and 216.32 crore persondays have been generated across the country.
• At the national level, average wage paid under MGNREGA has increased from Rs.65 (FY 2006-07) to Rs. 88.48 in FY 2009-10. This has led to a strengthening of the livelihood resource base of the rural poor in India. In 2008-09, 67% of funds utilized (Rs.18200.03 crore as wage expenditure) were in the form of wages paid to the labourers. In 2009-10, 69% of the funds have been utilized in the form of wages (Rs.18806.39 crore as wage expenditure)
• The Programme had a high workforce participation of marginalized groups like SC/ ST (54%) in FY 2008-09. Women workforce participation has also surpassed the statutory minimum requirement of one third participation. In 2008-09, women participation was 48% which has increased to 49% in FY 2009-10.
• Payment of wages through banks and post offices has been statutory. In the current financial year 2009-10, so far 8.57 crore bank and post offices accounts have been opened to disburse wages.
• MGNREGA workers have been identified as a category for Jana Shree Bima Yojana of LIC for insurance cover. Efforts are also on to extend the benefits of Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana to MGNREGA workers.
• In FY 2008-09, 27.75 lakhs works were undertaken with 46% water conservation works. Similarly, in FY 2009-10, 36.51 lakhs works were undertaken, of which 51% constituted water conservation, 16% rural connectivity, 14% land development and provision of irrigation facility to individual beneficiaries constituted around 17% with remaining 2% works related to other activities. Out of 36.51 lakh works undertaken, 13.75 lakhs works have already been completed.
According to the Highlights of Quarterly Progress Report on National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), Rural Development Ministry, 15 September, 2009, http://www.pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=52639, http://www.pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=52648
2. New initiatives: To continue focus on critical issues and priority areas highlighted by the President to strengthen NREGA, the Ministry has held high level workshops and extensive consultations. The action taken by the Ministry is as follows:
• District Level Ombudsman: Instructions on Ombudsman have been issued. The Ombudsman will be appointed by the State Government on the recommendation of the selection committee. Ombudsmen will be well-known persons from civil society. The Ombudsman will receive complaints from NREGA workers and others on any matters, consider such complaints and facilitate their disposal in accordance with law.
• NREGA partnership with Unique Identification Development Authority of India (UIDA): NREGA partnership with UIDA has been initiated.
• Social Audits: Social Audit is an important tool by which the people can improve and devise strategies to enhance the quality of implementation of NREGA. The Act was amended to provide for procedures on conducting social audits.
• Independent Monitoring Mechanisms: 100 eminent citizens will be identified to further report on the progress of NREGA.
• Convergence: The Ministry of Rural Development has developed and disseminated guidelines for convergence of NREGS with different Schemes and specific programmes. 115 pilot districts in 23 states have been identified for convergence.
• Enlarge the scope of works permitted under NREGA presently limited to unskilled manual labour: The Act has been amended to include provision of irrigation facility, horticulture plantation and land development facilities to land owned by households of the small farmers or marginal farmers.
• NREGA has the potential to diminish the adverse impact of drought by placing purchasing power in the hands of the people. Advisories were issued to all 11 drought affected states to ensure that adequate funds and shelf of project have been made available to the Districts.
• 115 pilot districts in 23 states have been identified for convergence among various rural development programs of the ministry. He also informed that the scope of works permissible under NREGA has been enlarged to include the provision of irrigation facility, horticulture plantation and land development facilities to land owned small or marginal farmers. Efforts have been made to protect the non negotiable instruments in the act. Gram Panchayats have been asked to ensure that works on lands of SC / ST and BPL receive first priority. Provision of Ombudsman at district level, setting up of Eminent Citizen’s Panel along with the reports from the National monitors will play a a major role in the monitoring of implementation of the Act.
• Efforts are on to upgrade the capacity of NIRD for better training in rural development and governance reforms are being undertaken to upscale the capacity of CAPART. NIRD and CAPART have been assigned the responsibility to prepare training modules for flagship programs.
According to Chakraborty, Pinaki (2007): Implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in India: Spatial Dimensions and Fiscal Implications, Bard College, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm
Provisions of NREGA
The various provisions of the NREGA are the following: (i) it provides at least one hundred days of guaranteed wage employment in every fiscal year for at least one adult member of every household prepared to do unskilled manual labor at the wage rate specified by the state government; (ii) creation of durable assets and strengthening the livelihood resource base of the rural poor shall be an important objective of the scheme. The state council shall prepare a list of permissible works, as well as a list of “preferred works”; (iii) the program may also provide, as far as possible, for the training and upgradation of the skills of unskilled laborers; (iv) wages may be paid in cash, in kind, or both, provided that at least one-fourth of the wages shall be paid in cash only; (v) employment shall be provided within a radius of five kilometers of the village where the applicant resides at the time of applying. In cases where employment is provided outside such radius, it must be provided within the block, and the laborers shall be paid 10 percent of the wage rate as extra wages to meet additional transport and living expenses; (vi) in case the number of children below the age of six years accompanying the women working at any site is five or more, provisions shall be made to depute one women worker to look after such children. The person deputed for this shall be paid the statutory minimum wage; and (vii) a proportion of the wages, not exceeding 5 percent, may be deducted as a contribution to welfare schemes organized for the benefit of laborers employed under the program, such as health insurance, accident insurance, survivor benefits, maternity benefits, and social security schemes