MIHIR SHAH UNVEILS A BOLD NREGA-2


MGNREGA, which entitles millions of workers enrolled under it to at least Rs 100 a day for 100 days of work in a year, is undergoing an overhaul based on a set of recommendations of committee headed by Planning Commission member Mihir Shah.

Encapsulated in The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 - Operational Guidelines 2012 in what is being called “MGNREGA 2.0”, the recommendations aim for creation of durable assets and an increase in farm productivity, greater efficiency, overcoming major complaints such as delays in payments of wages and develop mechanisms to eliminate the scope of corruption under the programme.

The highlight is inclusion of new works under MNREGA. The new activities proposed for inclusion include rice cultivation using the system of rice intensification (SRI), soil conservation activities, production of manure and bio pesticides, construction of seed-storage bins and shelters for cattle and poultry. Also included are developmental works such as rural water supply and sanitation, besides area-focused activities like fish drying yards and storm water drains for coastal areas.

It makes it mandatory for the Gram Panchayat or Programme Officer to accept applications for work on a continuous basis. Providing detailed guidelines, it makes refusal to accept applications and provide dated receipts a contravention of Section 25 of MGNREGA. 

The committee also suggested ways to check payment delays and suggested that all payments under MGNREGA be made within 15 days and interim payments be allowed in cases where measurement of work has not been finished. Delay in payment should be considered a punishable offence under section 25 of the Act.

The committee noted that an important cause for delay of wage payments is non-availability of sufficient funds at district/block/GP level, while in others there is a surplus. It suggests the States can adopt an integrated fund management system called eFMS (Electronic Fund Management System) under which the MGNREGS fund is a centrally pooled fund managed at state level. Users – GP at village level or Program Officer at Block level or DPC at district level – all-across the state, will have access to this pooled fund for making payments. This improves efficiency of the program on the whole and also has a multiplier effect on timely delivery of wage payments.

It suggests preparation of a Labour Budget which has two sides – one, assessment of quantum and timing of demand for work and two, preparing a shelf of projects to meet this demand in a timely manner. This would help opening work synchronized with the pattern of migration in an area so as to pre-empt distress migration. 

Instead of presenting Annual Plans for approval at the Gram Sabha on October 2, far too late to prevent distress migration of households, the committee panel says this would be done now on August 15.

Writing in the Preface of the Operational Guidelines for MGNREGA, Jairam Ramesh has put it succinctly: “The real success of MGNREGA will lie in raising the agricultural productivity of millions of these farmers who will then be able to return once again to farming and will no longer need to depend on MGNREGA for their survival. Urgent measures are required to convert MGNREGA into a productivity-enhancing instrument that will also allay the falsely perceived conflict between MGNREGA and agriculture – for MGNREGA is the foundation for solving the problems of the poorest farmers of our country.”

ADDITIONAL LIST OF PERMISSIBLE WORKS UNDER MGNREGA

A. Watershed Related Works

1. Contour Trench
2. Contour Bund
3. Boulder Check
4. Farm Bunding
5. Gabion Structures
6. Underground Dyke
7. Earthen Dam
8. Dugout Farm Ponds
9. Stop Dam

B. Watershed Related Works in Mountain Regions
 
10. Springshed Development

C. Agriculture Related Works

11. NADEP Composting
12. Vermi-Composting
13. Liquid Manures
14. Bio-Gas Plant
15. System of Rice Intensification (SRI)
Each farmer (qualifying for support under MGNREGA) willing to try out SRI will be eligible for 8 person-days of work per acre for one-time transplantation, 2 person-days of work per acre for weeding at 10 to 15 days after transplantation and 2 person-days of work per acre for weeding at 20 to 30 days after transplantation

D. Livestock Related Works

16. Poultry Shelter
17. Goat Shelter
18. Construction of Pucca Floor, Urine Tank And Fodder Trough For Cattle
19. Azolla as Cattle-Feed Supplement

E. Fisheries Related Works

20. Fisheries in Seasonal Water Bodies On Public Land

F. Works in Coastal Areas

21. Fish Drying Yards
22. Artificial Reefs
23. Belt Vegetation
24. Construction of Storm Water Drains for Coastal Protection

G. Rural Drinking Water Related Works

25. Soak Pits
26. Recharge Pits (for Point Recharge)

H. Rural Sanitation Related Works

27. Individual Household Latrines
28. School Toilet Units
29. Anganwadi Toilets
30. Solid and Liquid Waste Management

To Check on Misuse of Funds

a. Strengthening Social Audits, Vigilance and Grievance Redressal

b. The following will be considered offences punishable under Section 25 of the Act:

Job cards found in the possession of any Panchayat or MGNREGA functionary
Missing entries or delay in entries in the Job Card
Refusal to accept applications and provide dated receipts
Unreasonable delays in measurement of works
Unreasonable delays in payment of wages
Failure to dispose of complaints within 7 days

c. Limitations on Administrative Expenses:

At least two-thirds of the 6% admissible under this head will be spent at the block-level and below
The following items shall under no condition be booked under the administrative costs of MGNREGA:
oNew vehicles
oNew buildings
oAir-conditioners
oSalaries/remuneration/honoraria of functionaries who are not exclusively or wholly dedicated to MGNREGA work

Highlights of New MGNREGA Guidelines proposed by Mihir Shah Committee:

1. Strengthening the Demand-driven character of the programme

2. Preparation of Labour Budget

3. Strict Time-Schedules

4. Adequate Human Resources

5. Expanded List of Permissible Works 

6. Reducing Delays in Payments

7. Greater Role for Civil Society

8. Strengthening Social Audits, Vigilance and Grievance Redressal

 
References: 

MG-NREGA 2005,Operational Guidelines 2012, 4th Edition, http://planningcommission.nic.in/reports/genrep/mgnarega_g
uidelines_2012.pdf

 

Report of theCommittee for Revision of MGNREGA Operational Guidelines, Submitted by Dr.Mihir Shah Chairperson, Committee for Revision of MGNREGA OperationalGuidelines, http://nrega.nic.in/circular/Report_Committee_Revision_gui
delines.pdf
 

 

Expanded NationalRural Employment Guarantee Act to arrest fall in appeal, The Economic Times, 23February, 2012,

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/ex
panded-national-rural-employment-guarantee-act-to-arrest-f
all-in-appeal/articleshow/11998606.cms

 

New MGNREGA willboost farm productivity, Says Jairam, Press Information Bureau, 22 February,2012, http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=80472 

 

NREGA 2 aimed atbolstering UPA 2 by Prasad Nichenametla, The Hindustan Times, 22 February,2012, http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/NREGA-2-
aimed-at-bolstering-UPA-2/Article1-815496.aspx

 

Jairam makes NREGAmore agriculture-focused by Nirendra Dev, The Statesman, 22 February, 2012,

http://thestatesman.net/index.php?option=com_content&v
iew=article&id=400973&catid=36

 

Inventing NREGA 2.0,Live Mint, 10 February, 2012,

http://www.livemint.com/2012/02/10005718/Ourview--Inventin
g-NREGA-20.html?h=B



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