About the scheme
- The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme is the largest social security scheme in the world — guaranteeing 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.
- 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 Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) is monitoring the entire implementation of this scheme in association with state governments.
- 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).
- A 60:40 wage and material ratio has to be maintained.
- 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.
Why in News?
- More than 2 lakh rural households have already completed their guaranteed 100 days of employment under the MGNREGA scheme within the first three months of the financial year. This is higher than seen at the same time last year, indicating even higher demand for work than 2020-21’s unprecedented levels.
- Given the high rates of rural job loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic, activists belonging to the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking for an additional 50 days of work to be provided under the scheme, with funding allocated from the disaster management budget.
- The MGNREGA scheme proved a lifeline for migrant workers and families hit by the COVID-19 lockdown last summer. In acknowledgement of the disaster, the Centre increased MGNREGA funding by ₹40,000 crore for 2020-21. However, funding is back to pre-COVID-19 levels this year, with the Centre arguing that there has been no nationwide lockdown, and there have been lower levels of reverse migration.
- However, the MGNREGA database shows that this year’s demand may be even higher than last year’s. Throughout 2020-21, an unprecedented 72 lakh households completed 100 days of work. If the trend of the first quarter continues, this year will see an even higher number of families who run out of work under the scheme.