Right to Work (MG-NREGA)

Right to Work (MG-NREGA)

What's Inside


The Performance Audit of the implementation of NREGA by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, cag.gov.in/html/reports/civil/2008_PA11_nregacivil/Exe-sum.pdf show:


• A Performance Audit of the implementation of NREGA in the initially notified 200 districts was taken up during May–September 2007, in response to a request from the Ministry of Rural Development, so as to provide assurance that the processes under the Act were put in place and were being adopted effectively by the State Governments.

• Of the total available funds of Rs. 12074 crore (including the States’ share of Rs 813 crore) upto March 2007, the State Governments could utilize Rs. 8823 crore (73 per cent)

• According to the Ministry of Rural Development’s figures, 3.81 crore households had registered under the Act, Out of these, while, 2.12 crore households had demanded employment, 2.10 crore households were provided employment during 2006-07.

• The applications for work are to be submitted primarily at the Gram Panchayat, and it was crucial to maintain proper records of employment demanded, employment provided, number of days of employment generated, entitlement for employment allowance etc. However, the examination of field-level records by Audit reveled that record maintenance, particularly at GP level was poor, demonstrating the lack reliability and authenticity of the reported figures. Also, as the applications for demand for work were not documented or dated, and dated receipts for such applications were not issued in most cases, the eligibility of rural households for unemployment allowance, in these cases, was unverifiable. This would indicate that there is a high probability of only partial capturing of the demand for work.

• There were several cases of delayed payment of wages, for which no compensation was paid. While there was a high probability that all demands for work were not being captured, there were also instances of non-payment of unemployment allowance, which became due to employment seekers even where the records indicated that demand was not provided within 15 days from date of demand. Yet no one was fined for the violation of the Act. This indicates lack of an effective grievance redressal mechanism which defeated the very purpose of the Act of conferring a statutory right on the rural households for demanding upto 100 days of employment.

• The poor record maintenance further diluted the purpose of the Act as in the absence of dated acknowledgement of the application for work, there was no way the employment seekers could prove denial of demanded work and could claim entitlement for unemployment allowance.

• Systems for financial management and tracking were deficient, as monthly squaring and reconciliation of accounts at different levels to maintain financial accountability and transparency was not being done. The status of inspection of works, and holding of Gram Sabhas to conduct Social Audit Forum was also not up to the mark.

• Subsequent to the original audit, some of the sampled districts were revisited to check the improvement in maintenance of records in February-March 2008, covering 24 GPs in 12 blocks in 12 districts in 6 States from within the original audit sample. The scrutiny revealed that while there was a definite improvement in record maintenance especially in Uttar Pradesh after the conduct of initial audit, the maintenance of basic records at the GP level, in particular the employment register was still deficient and there was considerable scope for improvement.


Funding of NREGA



funding of nrega



Present status

According to the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Performance Audit Report No. 11 of 2008,

• The Governments of Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Manipur, Punjab, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu (13 States) did not formulate rules for carrying out the provisions of the Act as of March 2007

• The Governments of Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Assam,  Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur,  Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and West Bengal (16 States) did not prescribe the time frame for each level i.e. GP, Block and District levels for proposing, scrutinising and approving REGS works

• While 18 State Governments had designated an officer as State Rural Employment Guarantee Commissioner, the State Governments of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Nagaland, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh  and Uttarakhand (7 States) had not done so as of March 2007

• The Governments of  Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand  and  West Bengal (20 States) did not appoint full-time dedicated Programme Officers (POs) in 102 test checked blocks. The existing Block Development Offices (BDOs) were appointed as POs and given the additional charge of the Scheme

• Out of 68 districts test checked, District Perspective Plans (DPPs) were not prepared by 40 districts in Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Manipur, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal (17 States)

• Door-to-door survey to identify persons willing to register was not conducted in 323 Gram Panchayats in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Manipur, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal (20 States)

• Delays in issue of job cards were noticed in 196 Gram Panchayats in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Manipur, Orissa, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal (16 States)

• Photographs of the applicants were not attached to job cards in 251 Gram Panchayatss in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal (13 States)

• In 19 districts in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh (7 States), the wages-material ratio of 60:40 was not maintained at the district level

• The Governments of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Punjab, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand (16 States) did not prepare separate District-wise Schedules of Rates (DSRs) specifically for NREGA works

• In 79 Gram Panchayats in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu (12 States), the workers, even after working for seven hours, were paid wages less than the minimum wage rate

• In 213 Gram Panchayats in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh,  Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur,  Orissa,  Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand  and West Bengal (17 States), workers were not paid wages on time i.e. within a fortnight of the date on which the work was done. No compensation was paid to them

• Audit scrutiny in 58 blocks in Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand  (17 States) revealed that unemployment allowance was not paid to those workers, who could not be provided with employment within 15 days from the date on which work was requested for

• In 246 Gram Panchayats in Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal (15 States), copies of muster rolls were not available for public scrutiny in the Gram Panchayats


According to the Centre for Science and Environment, www.cseindia.org,


• Governments have failed to articulate the Act’s development potential. Instead of implementing and evaluating the Act purely in terms of employment creation, the focus should have been on the real impacts on local development through productive assets creation

• Irrational wage calculations have made projects like water conservation less lucrative

• Out of a total of 769,582 works under progress, only 158,277 (20.56 per cent) have been completed. Till August 2007, only about 14 per cent of water conservation works under NREGA had been completed.

• In fact, road construction projects were getting done at a faster rate

• Bad planning for water conservation structures is putting a large number of the assets created into disuse. For instance, water-harvesting structures have been created without any provision for catchment protection. On top of this, ‘maintenance work’ does not come under the ambit of NREGA as a permissible activity. As a result, districts, which already have large numbers of water harvesting structures and want to use NREGA money for their maintenance, can’t do so

The study titled “Evaluating Performance of national Rural Employment Guarantee Act”, which has been done by Public Interest Foundation (PIF) and National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) show,



  • There has been data manipulation that falsely portrays a healthy picture of employment generated through the scheme.
  • Provision of employment to 10 per cent households in the official data is also doubtful because independent surveys, social audits, and field studies have revealed several cases of data manipulations which explains why national and state level data on employment against demand shows a rather healthy demand
  • There were a large number of districts in many states, where the number of households that have been issued job cards is more than the total number of households in these districts


The study has made the following recommendations:

Responsibility of Government of India to provide funds through an easy and convenient mechanism

  • In the present funding pattern GOI provides funds to the states to meet full cost of wages and upto 75% of the material cost of work including wages to skilled and semiskilled workers. (subject to material-wage ratio not exceeding 40:60); release of funds is made not to the state but directly to each district. This system involves need for detailed calculations and scrutiny of figures of expenditure on wages, material component and staff. It also entails heavy workload in having to keep district-wise accounts. This cumbersome procedure compels district officers to make frequent visits to Delhi to chase their proposals for release of funds.
  • The whole process can be greatly simplified by having a new funding pattern in which central government meets full cost of employment wages and in addition funds equal to 50% of wages are given towards all other costs (including material component, staff etc). This simple pattern of funding would dispense the need for getting from states details of expenditure on material, staff etc. or having to calculate the wage-material ratio in REGS works. Also, the release of funds should be to the state and not directly to the district; on-account automatic release of funds to the states will be based on the Utilization Certificate of earlier released funds given by the finance department of the state.  GOI will then be concerned with maintaining only state-wise accounts and not nearly 600 accounts for the districts.
  • The above on-account automatic fund release mechanism should be backed by an efficient system of timely post-release checking of accounts of the states by the Inspection team deputed by the Centre. REGS should also provide for half-yearly audit of accounts by the State Audit and annual audit by C & AG


According to the Digging holes and filling them in again? How far do public works enhance livelihoods? by Anna McCord and John Farrington,


Problems with the implementation of NREGA

  • Low utilisation of available funds: central government provides 90% of the funding for NREGA, but on average, the States used 71.5% of funds in FY 2006/7, with some under 50%
  • Low and intermittent provision of work: a national average of 43 employment days per benefited family in 2006/7; failure to meet the target of one-third women beneficiaries in 11 of 27 States; intermittent provision of work, often clashing with main agricultural activities.
  • Implementation difficulties, including absence of social audits and inadequate focus of public works on priority areas such as water conservation, drought proofing and plantations; non-implementation of workplace facilities and unemployment benefit
  • Low awareness of the Act’s provisions among intended beneficiaries, beyond the “100 days of work” provision
  • Misappropriation of funds in the process of issuing job cards and registering workers on specific jobs; diversion of funds to unauthorised works

Long term public works in India – the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA):

Main features

  • The basic objectives of NREGA, passed in September 2005, are essentially long-term, namely to enhance livelihood security in rural areas; as well as creating productive assets, protecting the environment, empowering rural women and fostering social equity.
  • Its budget in FY 2006-07 was Rs113bn, rising to Rs. 120bn for 2007-08 (approximately US$3bn, equivalent to some 0.4% of GDP). It is intended ultimately to benefit some 54 million of the poorest rural workers, initially in 200 poor districts (expanded to 330 districts – approximately two-thirds of the districts in the country – from April 2007).

The Act builds on earlier experience with Employment Guarantee in Maharashtra. Apart from affirming the ‘right to work’, it also seeks to ensure that the poor have a voice in decisions on the works to be undertaken, so that such works contribute to their livelihoods. The core features of the Act are:

  • Registration by unskilled workers with local government for a job card which is valid for at least five years.
  • The provision of not less than 100 days of local (i.e. within a 5 km radius) wage employment per registered household, on demand, in a financial year.
  • At least one-third of the wage seekers to be women.
  • Payment of the statutory minimum agricultural wage, with equal wages paid to men and women.
  • Contractors and labour displacing machinery not to be engaged. Only works approved by local government to be taken up.
  • Provision of unemployment allowance if an applicant is not provided with work within fifteen days of receipt of his/her application for employment.
  • Provision of work site facilities such as safe drinking water, child care, shelter and first aid. In case of accidental injury while working, the injured person is entitled to medical treatment free of charge.

Rural Experts

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