- The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005, guarantees 100 days of work each financial year to any rural household willing to do public work-related unskilled manual work at the statutory minimum wage.
- In addition to this, there is a provision for upto additional 50 days of unskilled wage employment in a financial year in drought/natural calamity notified rural areas. The State Governments may make provision for providing additional days beyond the period guaranteed under the Act from their own funds.
- The act makes it obligatory for the State to give rural households work on demand. In case such employment is not provided within 15 days of registration, the applicant becomes eligible for an unemployment allowance.
- The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) was initiated as directed in MGNREGA to implement the mandate of the Act.
- The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) is monitoring the entire implementation of the MGNREGS in association with state governments.
Key Features of the Scheme
- Every rural household has the right to register under MGNREGA.
- One-third of the stipulated workforce must be women.
- Work site facilities such as creche, drinking water and shade have to be provided.
- The employment will be provided within a radius of 5 km: if it is above 5 km extra wage will be paid.
- The wages are revised according to the Consumer Price Index-Agricultural Labourers (CPI-AL).
- While 60 per cent of the total expenditure has to be on wage, 40 per cent spending has to be on the creation of material assets.
- Permissible works predominantly include water and soil conservation, afforestation and land development works.
- Work site facilities such as crèche, drinking water, shade have to be provided.
- Gram sabhas must recommend the works that are to be undertaken and at least 50% of the works must be executed by them.
- Social Audit has to be done by the Gram Sabha.
- Funding is shared between the centre and the states.
- The funding pattern of the scheme comprises 100% funding for unskilled labour cost and 75% of the material cost by Central Government and rest shall be borne by the State Government.
Why in News?
- An internal study commissioned by the Ministry of Rural Development has argued for decentralisation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), allowing for more “flexibility” at the ground level.
- The sixth Common Review Mission which surveyed seven States — Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Nagaland, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh — and the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir in February to assess the implementation of all rural development schemes, including the MGNREGS recommended that there should be a greater diversification of permissible works instead of listing the types of permissible works, broad categories of works may be listed out and flexibility should be given at ground level to select the type of works as per broad categories.
- The internal study also flagged the frequent delay in fund disbursal, and to deal with it suggested a revolving fund that can be utilised whenever there is a delay in the Central funds.
- The study also noted that the MGNREGS wages were far below the market rate in many States, defeating the purpose of acting as a safety net.
- At present, the minimum wage of a farm labourer in Gujarat is ₹324.20, but the MGNREGS wage is ₹229. The private contractors pay far more. In Nagaland, the wage is ₹212 per day, which does not take into account the difficult terrain conditions. Similarly, in Jammu and Kashmir, the rate is ₹214 per day. This is lower than what is offered by private contractors which can go up to ₹600-₹700 per day.