*Shambhu Nath Chaudhary

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has come a long way since its inception and has become a lifeline to millions. The Act was notified on 7th September, 2005 to provide minimum of 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. Social inclusion, gender parity, social security and equitable growth are the founding pillars of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA.

Achievements

During Financial Year (FY) 2015-16, 235 crore Persondays were generated which was the highest compared to the previous five years. During FY 2016-17 so far, 4.8 crore households were provided employment in 142.64 lakh works. In the process 200 crore person-days of employment were generated. Out of the total employment, 56% have been generated for women. This is the highestever participation of women since inception of the programme.

Total expenditure in the programme since its inception is Rs. 3,76,546 crore and  Rs.48,000 crore is the allocation of fund for FY 2017-18, which is the highest ever allocation for MGNREGA. The expenditure in FY 2016-17 so far is Rs.51,902 crore and is the highest since inception.

On an average, 25 to 30 lakh works were completed every year (till FY 2013-14). On the contrary, 51.3 lakh works have been completed so far in current FY 2016-17.

For the first time since inception of the programme, Consolidated Guidelines for Water Conservation were drafted. Mission Water Conservation – Planning and monitoring Framework for Natural Resource Management (NRM) related works under MGNREGA in convergence with Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) and Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) has been prepared for scientific planning and execution of water management works with the use of latest technology is the focus area of the Ministry.

In FY 2016-17 (so far) 63% of total expenditure is on NRM (Natural Resource Management) works. Expenditure on agriculture and allied sector works in FY 2016-17 is nearly 70%, which was only around 48 % in FY 2013-14.

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GeoMGNREGA is a path breaking initiative that uses space technology for geo-tagging all assets created under MGNREGA for improved planning, effective monitoring, enhanced visibility and greater transparency. The initiative was implemented in FY 2016-17, and so far, nearly 65 Lakh assets have been geotagged and made available in the public domain.

Direct Benefit Transfer

To further streamline the fund flow mechanism and bring down delay in payment of wages, the Ministry of Rural Development has implemented National Electronic Fund Management System (NeFMS) in 21 States and 1 Union Territory. Around 96% of the wages are being paid electronically into the Bank/Post Office accounts of MGNREGA workers through Electronic Fund Management System (eFMS). In FY 2013-14, only 37% of the wages were paid electronically.

8.9 crore active workers have their Aadhaar numbers seeded in NREGASoft-MIS so far, while the number was merely 76 Lakh in January 2014. As of now, 4.25 crore workers have been enabled for Aadhaar Based Payment System (ABPS).

Good Governance Initiatives

Job card verification and updation was taken up during FY 2016-17, and 75% of active job cards have been updated/ verified in campaign mode.

Initiative has been taken to simplify MGNREGA through issuance of Annual Master Circular (AMC) for FY 2016-17 by superseding 1039 circulars/advisories issued earlier. The AMC for FY 2017-18 will be issued.

Reduction in number of Registers being maintained at Gram Panchayat level to 7 simplified Registers from an average of 22 Registers has been implemented. So far, 2.05 lakh Gram Panchayats have already adopted it.

The programme is progressing towards a more independent and empowered system of Social Audit and Internal Audit to ensure growth with accountability through a trained community cadre of social auditors drawn from women SHGs.

New Initiatives

The Ministry has taken up skill development of the MGNREGA workers through initiatives like Bare Foot Technicians and Project LIFE (Livelihood In Full Employment) in order to move them up the skilling ladder.

The Ministry initiated Inter State Exchange Programmes, a process ensuring sharing of ideas and good practices. So far, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Meghalaya, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have already been visited by various States during FY 2016-17.

For the first time, guidelines for Non-PMGSY Roads were developed based on PMGSY Guidelines for basic layer. The asset will be durable with a possibility of upgradation to PMGSY standards in future.

The Performance Outcome Report of MGNREGA was for the first time published during FY 2015-16, and will be published for FY 2016-17.

*Author is posted at Press Information Bureau, New Delhi. The article is based on the inputs from M/o Rural Development.

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