- 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?
- The Central government has constituted a committee to review the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme, especially to assess the programme’s efficacy as a poverty alleviation tool.
- The committee has now been tasked to study the various factors behind demand for MGNREGA work, expenditure trends and inter-State variations, and the composition of work. It will suggest what changes in focus and governance structures are required to make MGNREGA more effective.
- The present committee will also look at the argument that the cost of providing work has also shot up since the scheme first started.
- MGNREGA critics slam the scheme for the lack of tangible asset creation. The committee will study if the composition of work taken up presently under the scheme should be changed. It will review whether it should focus more on community-based assets or individual works.
- Regardless of all the criticism, MGNREGA acted as a crucial safety net during the COVID pandemic.