1 January 2017

The Act was notified in 200 districts in the first phase with effect from February 2nd 2006 and extended to additional 130 districts in the financial year 2007-2008 (113 districts were notified with effect from April 1st 2007, and 17 districts in UP were notified with effect from May 15th 2007). The remaining districts were notified under the NREGA with effect from April 1, 2008. Thus NREGA covers the entire country with the exception of districts that have a 100% urban population

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Key Stakeholders of NREGA comprises of Wage seekers, Gram Sabha, Panchayati Raj Institutions (specially the gram panchayat), Programme Officer at the block level, District Programme Coordinator, State Government & Ministry of Rural Development. During the first six months of the financial year 2011-12 as per reports available with the website of NREGA 31448266 households have demanded employment & 30848011 have been provided the employment. The average person-days per household comes to 27. 9 days. 567485 households got 100 days employment under the scheme. Table-1) The table-2 reflects the details about assets created under the scheme. It give the details of the tasks which was approved but not in progress, task taken up & task completed. Table -3 shows the details about the funds released by the government, it is clear from the table that there is no shortage of funds for the scheme. In-spite of sufficient availability of funds, willingness of the government to provide employment to the villagers, the scheme is not picking-up due to various reasons. The main reasons for the relatively poor progress of the scheme are summarized as under.

Shortage of Manpower Shortage of manpower to manage the activities at the Grama Panchayat level is an important limiting factor. Panchayats usually have a number of small projects to be taken up in their annual Action plans. For execution of the projects, ground work which includes site visit, preparation of detailed estimates, monitoring of the work, measurement and counter-measurement of the work before preparation of the bills has to be carried out. In general there is only an engineer and/or junior engineer is there, who is responsible for looking after the work of one or more Gram Sabha.

This leads to preparation of detailed estimates in a casual way without site visits, generally there is only a single visit by the engineering staff to the work site and the bill preparation is delayed by a few weeks. In absence of adequate supporting staff the working has become difficult in the field. The Gram Panchayats have been given the duties of registration, preparation of the work calendar, fund management and wage distribution to the Panchayat Secretary is saddling him with an additional burden

The Data Entry Operators posted for the feeding of related data are provisional employee who are not trained for the scheme, as a result, their work is quite mechanical. They also have to perform the duties of an accountant and verify financial transactions. Additionally, being a temporary staff, they are free to quit at any time, which could plunge the programme into jeopardy. As such there is a need for pooling of human resources from government Departments and private institutions as well as utilizing the services of retired officials for preparing a comprehensive Action Plan for at least next three to five years.

GOI has allowed 6% expenditure towards managerial cost in the program. This provision can be used by the State Governments to setup a trained team of 4 to 5 persons having engineering skills. The team can take care of the work of one or more gram panchayat. This team would have taken the programme to newer heights. Training Needs: The persons identified/ selected for the programme as recommended above be imparted training in conceptualizing programme for identifying innovative projects. So far, the majority of the projects identified and implemented are mainly related to rural connectivity, irrigation, desilting of tanks etc.

The lack of truly innovative projects is pointing towards the lack of a proper and scientific primary survey by conceptualizing development activities. Restriction of Work to Household The operational guidelines of the NREGA describe a household as a nuclear family, comprising mother, father and their children. In addition, a household refers to a single member family. Still there is still a lot of confusion about the definition of this critical term. For instance, reports from Madhya Pradesh (Dhar district) show that gram panchayats treat joint families as one household, thus issuing them a single job card.

Our country has historically followed the system of joint families; such practices will put joint families in a disadvantageous position & it could lead to the end of the tradition of joint families in rural India. Denial of registration There are some incidents of denial of registration to single-womanheaded households and physically challenged individuals. Discrimination based on caste has also been noted in some states like Gujarat. During a survey conducted by Participatory Research in Action (PRIA) in the state of Uttar Pradesh (Sitapur district), women were discouraged from registering.

In Gujarat (Sabarkantha district) the aged and physically challenged were denied registration forms (report by Participatory Research in Action (PRIA); survey undertaken from April 25-May 25 in 11 states. Limiting the work to 100 Days in a year The limiting of work to hundred days a year is also a lacuna in the Act. Although there is a provision in the Act to raise the household work entitlement beyond 100 days or extend it to every adult, unfortunately this has not been given due attention. Making Calendar for NREGS work.

The NREGS are offering higher wages which leads to shortage of workers for agricultural work. In order to ensure that the agriculture work does not suffer due to NREGS work, it is suggested that NREGS works be kept open only when agricultural work is not available. A work calendar can be developed for the period when agriculture work is not available can be dedicated to NREGS work. It will prevent clashes and consequent labour shortages and wage fluctuations, and ensures year-round employment. Maintenance of Work completed under NREGA

Schedule I of the Act lists eight categories of works that are supposed to be “the focus of the Scheme”. It include (a) “water conservation and water harvesting”; (b) “drought proofing” (including afforestation); (c) “irrigation canals including micro and minor irrigation works”; (d) “provision of irrigation facility” to land owned by households belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, beneficiaries of land reforms, or beneficiaries of Indira Awas Yojana; (e) “renovation of traditional water bodies” including desilting of tanks; (f) “land development”; g) “flood control and protection works” including drainage in water logged areas; and (h) “rural connectivity to provide all-weather access”. In addition, there is a residual ninth category: “any other work which may be notified by the Central Government in consultation with the State Government”. Presently these works are being carried out under NREGA but the question of maintenance of the work completed under the scheme is an aspect that has been ignored and could took away the benefits to the stake holders in due course of time. Cumbersome Procedure

The cumbersome procedure to be followed by the Grama Panchayat be made simpler. The practice of forwarding the projects to Block and District Panchayat for approval is not only time consuming but is also a negation of decentralization. A more effective and speedy procedure at the Block level for verifying the projects would have served the purpose better. Absence of worksite facilities The NREGA provides for facilities for safe drinking water, shade for children, periods of rest and a first-aid box at the work site (Section 27, Schedule II of the NREGA).

But a lot has to be done to ensure these facilities, the notable absence of which is a problem that cuts across states. Small children remain unattended, in the heat. As a consequence, women are hesitant to bring their children to the sites. It also forces them to rethink about applying for work in the first place. Trees act as the only source of shade for the rural poor working at the sites. Non-availability of muster rolls at the worksite It is rare indeed to find muster rolls at the worksites. Reports from across NREGA districts show that kutcha muster rolls/attendance sheets are being maintained by people at worksites.

Rough notebooks and diaries are being used to mark attendance and make wage payments. It is required that the proper documentation of the work done under the scheme be carriedout & it should to subject to third party audit. It will reduce the instances of mis appropriation of funds in a significant way. Delay in wage payments Delays in wage payments have always been a matter of concern in previous employment programmes, and this issue continues to plague the NREGA. Wage payments are delayed for weeks, sometimes months. The time lag varies from state to state.

In many states, workers do not earn minimum wages. This issue needs immediate attention of the implementing authorities. Corruption in implementation of scheme There are reports from the various states that the funds under NREGA have been misappropriated. Reports from the state of Uttar Pradesh shows that the payments were released without even starting the work or the work have been shown completed on paper only without any ground realities. In some cases the estimate for a work were prepared on higher side & funds were misappropriated by the implementing agencies.

CBI has also started investigation of misappropriation of funds under NREGA in UP. Such type of instances are likely to impact the programme adversely. As such there is need of third party audit for the work completed under the scheme. Inclusion of Skilled work in NAREGA Skilled work should be included under the ambit of NREGA which will take care of long term growth perspectives of the villagers and the village. Sat the same time educated people (above 10th grade) should not be considered for the manual labour. Presently collage graduates are getting employment under NRGEA.

Reason for their enrolment for unskilled labour needs to be evaluated. We should evolve a system to get benefited from the knowledge of qualified stakeholders. Instead of employing these people for unskilled work, they can be utilized for jobs that would justify their education qualifications. The work given to them match to their skill sets, the beneficiaries would be motivated to participate and execute the village initiatives. Change in Mindset of Government Officials Some government officials/beneficiaries see this program as means to add few more rupees to household.

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