National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme

The Act

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (NREGA) was passed by Parliament on 5th September, 2005 with a view to enhancing the livelihood security of the households in rural areas of the country by providing at least one hundred days of guaranteed wage employment in every financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual labour. This work guarantee can also serve other objectives: generating productive asset, protecting the environment, empowering rural women, reducing rural urban migration and fostering social equity, among others. However, the central or state governments may, written the limits of its economic capacity and development, make provisions for securing works to every adult member of a household under the scheme for any period beyond the period guaranteed under section 3(1) of the Act. This Act was initially promulgated in 200 backward districts of the country since second Feb., 2006 and it was envisaged to cover up the entire country in a phased manner within a span of 5 year. During the year 2007-2008 it has been extended to 330 districts of the country.

 The Scheme

NREGA calls for the formulation of a Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (REGS) by every State Government within Six months of the date of commencement of the Act. Each REGS was required to have the minimum features specified in schedules I and II of the Act. The Section-4 of the Act also provided that until such a scheme is notified by the state Government, the Annual or Perspective Plan of the Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojna (SGRY) or National Food for Work Programme (NFFWP), whichever is enforce in that area, shall be deemed to be the Action Plan for the scheme for the purpose of this Act.

U.P. Scenario
As per guidelines issued by the Ministry of Rural Development (MOPR), New Delhi the scheme of NREGS was initiated in the state of Uttar Pradesh also since Feb. 2nd, 2006 in 22 district of the State through an executive order. However, State cabinet accorded to approval and 23rd May, 2006. The scheme, as required under section-4 of the Act, was formulated by the state Government on 8th Feb, 2006, i.e., after the year of the enactment of the Act and the NREGS was designated as Uttar Pradesh Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (UPREGS) after the gazette notification of 8th Feb. 2007. New during the current financial year the scheme has been extended to 17 New Districts.

Salient Features of UPREGS

  • Objective of the Scheme : Adopted the in toto the provision of the Act.
  • Eligibility :
  • A Household : The available 100 days' employment will be divided amongst all the its willing adult members.
  • The household members must reside in Gram Panchayat area.
  • The willing members must seek registration for Job Cards.
  • Must obtain Job Cards.
  • Must apply for the manual unskilled labour.
  • Must turn up at the site for the work.
  • The registered ladies must be given preference for work atleast upto 33 percent.
    The disabled registered workers must be given work to according to their ability and capability.

Types of Works to be executed :
According to section-4(3) of the Act the focus of the scheme shall be on the following works in their order of priority :

  • Water conservation and water harvesting;
  • Drought proofing (including a forestation and tree plantation);
  • Irrigation canals including micro and minor irrigation works;
  • Provision of irrigation facility to land owned by households belonging to the schedule cast and schedule tribes or to land of beneficiaries of land reform or that of the beneficiary under the Indra Awas Yojana of the Government of India;
  • Renovation of traditional water bodies including desilting of tanks;
  • Land development
  • Flood control and production works including drainage in water logged areas;
  • Rural connectivity to provide all-weather access; and
  • Any other work, which may be notified by the Central Government in consultation with the State Government.

Identification of the Project :

  • The Gram Panchayat shall be responsible for identification of the projects in the gram Panchayat area to be taken up under a scheme as per the recommendations of the gram Sabhas and the Ward Sabhas and for executing and supervising such works.
  • Preparation of Annual Action Plan or Perspective Plan by nominated agencies who were to formulate such plans with consultation to Gram Sabhas.

Execution of the Scheme :

  • Atleast 50% works by Gram Panchayats.
  • Contractors not to be engaged.
  • Machines not to be deployed, as far as practicable.
  • New works can not be taken up until atleast 10 labourers are available.
  • Facilities of Furst aid Box, shade, cretche and drinking water to be provided at the work site.
  • Facilities of free medical treatment to the workers injured at the work and compensation in certain cases.

Wages:

  • Minimum Rs-80/- per day
  • No discrimination based on sex
  • Weekly payment or at the must in a fortnight
  • Necessary entry of wages on Job Cards


Unemployment allowance:

In case of failure to provide employment with 15 days of the demand, unemployment allowance to be paid with in 15 days @ one fourth of the wages rate for the first 30 days and one-half of the wage rate of the remaining period of the financial year.


Organizational set up:
State level: for the purpose of regular monitoring and renewing the scheme the state government constitution under sec- 12 of the Act a State Council, known as State Employment Guarantee Council.

  • Not more than 15 non-official members nominated by the State representing PRIs. Organizations of workers and disadvantages of groups.
  • Gram Vikas Vibhag the Nodal Department.

District level:
CDO nominated as Distt. Programme coordinator and DDO as Addl. Distt. Programme coordinator.

Block level:

  • BDO to function as Program Officer.
  • The PRIs will be the Chief Planning and Execution Agencies.

Publicity:

  • Dissemination of publicity material in local language
  • Publicity through multiple communication media
  • Audio Visual Aids and cultural programms
  • Seminars and meetings
  • Application of RTI for transparency and accountability.

Financial pattern:
The central government will bear the following costs:

  • The entire cost of the wages for unskilled manual workers.
  • 75 percent of the cost of material and wages for skilled and semi-skilled workers.
  • Administrative expenses as may be determined by the central government will be include, inter alia, the salary and allowance of Programme Officer their support staff and work site facility.
  • Administrative expenses of the Central Employment Guarantee Council

The state government will bear the following costs:

  • 25 percent of the cost of material and wages for skilled and semi-skilled workers.
  • Unemployment allowances payable in case the State Government cannot wage employment within 15 days of application.
  • Administrative expenses of the State Employment Guarantee Council.

The Study

While working on this scheme since its inception through base line survey, workshops and seminars and frequent deliberations with the district coordinators of "NERGA campaign" UPVAN demand it to proper to critically examine the status of Uttar Pradesh Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. The study was conducted on sample method. Based on certain development indicators twelve Distt under UP NREGS were selected for detected study. From every district two blocks and from every block two gram Panchayats were selected.


Organizational status

  • No visible impact of UP State Employment guarantee council could be market in field.
  • The implementation of the scheme with skeleton staff and that too on adhoc basis has adversely affected the process of work.

Applying for the wage employment

  • The parochial dealing of gram Panchayats has deprived the needy ones.
  • The Gram Pradhans as per directives of the officials did not issue the receipt for the application for demanding work because the at both the levels there was fear of fixing the responsibility for the non-payment of unemployment allowances.

Job Cards

Neither issued timely nor handed over to the labour with the clear intention of mis- appropriation.


Availability of work

The data presented at the Internet regarding the availability of work is miscoding. In fact only such numbers have been shown as applied who were pointed wage employment.


Wages

The minimum wages fixed by the M.PR were Rs. 60/- per day. How the State Government allowed only Rs. 58/- per day. Now the Gramya Vikas Vibhag has fixed Rs.80/- as wages per day since 23rd May, 2006 based on the wages for agricultural labour which were prevalent since Feb. 24,2006 through an order of Labour Department of the Government of the Uttar Pradesh.

Weaker section

  • Despite the provision in the Act the women worker could not be allocated for manual labour. There was hardly 8% participation of women in the selected districts under study.
  • Instances of discrimination based on sex were also found with regard to the payment of the wages.
  • The problem of disabled of has been taken by the Implementing Department indifferently. Even their actual numbers on works has been wrongly reposted. Now some NGOs have come forward to plead their cases.

Transparency& Accountability

  • The largest group is being kept unaware about the provisions of the scheme willfully so that they could not create problem.
  • The necessary records are not made available to the stakeholders. The records are mostly kept by the Sachive, Gram Panchayats who always remains on wheel. The Gram Panchayats are not able to understand that what are their duty to show the records on demand. Failing which they can be penalized under section-14 of UP Panchayat Raj Act, 1947.
  • The records not available was to NGOs officially deputed for Social Audit by the Government.

Scheme & CSOs

  • Some of the CSOs are playing praise worth role in the planning and monitoring of the scheme on their own initiative. However, they have not been given a due reorganization by way of monitoring them as members of the Nigrani Samiti at various level.
  • The Social Audit works done by few CSOs is yet to make to debut.


The Inference

The success of any programme depends namely on two factors. Firstly how the programme has been concerned and planned. Secondly, the implementers capable and have proceeded ahead to execute the programme with good intentions.
As discussed earlier, the scheme has not been planned in a stipulated manner. The implementers are ...... capable, nor their intentions are clear. These factors have adversely affected the implementation of the scheme, as would be evidenced from the facts stated in subsequent paragraphs.


Intentions of the Target Group and Implementers

The target group has treated this scheme as a non-employment allowance provider and that is why people of this group have always been swarming the throng of Job Card seekers. The implementers have viewed this scheme from another angle. They viewed it as a good harvest of the seeds sown during preceding PRIs', elections. The officials viewed it as an opportunity to bargain with the implementers at the time of the release of untied funds. The fate of the scheme could be guessed with such three-pronged intentions.
The Scheme initiated with the above-mentioned background almost failed to make any debut, as would be evident from the inferences given in subsequent paragraphs.

  • The government of the Uttar Pradesh could formulate the scheme of NREGA only after a year i.e. on 8th February, 2007.
  • The perspective plan for the respective gram panchayats under the scheme, were formulated by the institutions nominated by the government. They hardly consulted Gram Sabhas during the formulated of the Action Plan/Perspective Plan. Consequently the Perspective Plan prepared could hardly be of and use.

Wage Employment
In the absence of proper Action Plan the works could not be identified and hence hardly 6% are the workers from amongst the job card holder, could get wages employment in a year.


Migration
Migration at workers in rural areas continued mainly due to two factors- short duration works and low wages.


Sustainable Development

So for the gram panchayats have not been able to create durable public Assets Leading towards sustainable development. In 43% Gram Panchayats under study the drains/Kharanja construction were in prominence. The works like digg......... of ponds and or a forestation could have been promising durable public assets, but they have been done in a quite unplanned manner. This could be of no use.


The facts studied above testifies that the scheme could neither provide wages employment and put a check on village exodus, nor it has been able to generate durable public assets, promising. Scope of rural employment hence in order to bring the scheme. On the right track few suggestion are enlisted in subsequent paragraphs for the active consideration of the government.

Recommendation :

1. Removal of Fallacies
Effort should be make to remove the fallacies of the villagers that not this is a scheme of fetching unemployment allowance. They have to clearly, understand that this is demand based scheme, where only those persons should apply for the Job Cards who actually want to work. The Gram Pradhans must also not forget that through this scheme they be able to 'oblige' only their resource group members. The officials must also been it in mind that they will be held responsible and accountable in the very near future.

2. Action Plan
The resources available in villages under ownership of gram panchayats must be identified and proper action plan should be formulated before initiation of work on this scheme.


3. Empowerment of Gram Sabhas
The gram Sabhas should be activated through persuasion and orientation of the members regarding the salient features of the scheme.

4. A Well Knit Organization
Minimum required staff must be posted at every stage of work. The staff posted must be given proper training through initiate as well as orientation courses at stipulated period of times.

5. Source Financial System
The stress should be made not only on allocation but on utilisation of funds.

6. Types of Works
Only such works which are actually needed by the majority of villagers. Efforts should be made to take up such works which may lead to sustainable development. The works like afforestation should be taken up only when proper place is available and there are arrangements for after care.

7. Preferential Treatments for the Weaker Section
The women and disabled and requisite conditions of works be created for this section of the society.

8. Transparency & Account ability

  • For transparency all the records pertaining to this scheme must be available with the gram      
    Pardhans.
  • In the planning and execution of the schemes majority of the Gram Sabha members must be 
    taken into confidence.
  • The necessary details of works under execution must be displayed in villages at proper places.
  • The Social Audit Reports of Gram Sabha and CSOs must be given due weightage by the 
    Government.

9. Role of CSOs
The Civil Society Organization (CSOs.) working in the area should be taken into confidence. Their support in creating awareness, planning the works and implementation should be sought. However, precaution should be taken is selecting the civil Society organizations

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