Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is an Indian Job guarantee scheme, enacted by legislation on 25 August 2005. The scheme provides a legal guarantee for at least 100 days of employment in every financial year to adult household members willing to do public work-related unskilled manual work at the statutory minimum wage of 120 (US$2.10) per day in 2009 prices. If they fail to do so, the government has to pay the salary at their homes.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

The central government’s outlay for the scheme was 4,000 billion (US$69 billion in the FY 2010-2011.

This act was introduced to improve the purchasing power of the rural people, primarily semiskilled or unskilled work to people living in rural India, whether or not they are below the poverty line. Around one-third of the stipulated workforce is women. The law was initially called the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and was renamed on 2 October 2009. In 2011, the programme was widely criticized, as it was no more effective than other poverty reduction programmes in India. Despite its best intentions, MGNREGA is beset with controversy about corrupt officials, deficit financing as the source of funds, poor quality of infrastructure built under this programme and unintended destructive effects on poverty.

History of MGNREGA

MGNREGA was launched on 2 February 2006 from Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh and initially covered 200 of the ‘poorest’ districts of the country. The Act was implemented in phases; 130 districts were added from 2007 to 2008. With its spread to over 626 districts across the country, the flagship programme of the UPA government has the potential to increase the purchasing power of the rural poor, reduce distress migration and to create useful assets in rural India.

It can foster social and gender equality, as 23% of workers under the scheme are Scheduled Castes, 17% Scheduled Tribes and 50% women. In 2010-2011, 41 million households were employed on NREGA worksites. The Act was passed by the Lok Sabha on 23 August 2004 and was signed by the President of India on 5 September 2005.

Implementation of MGNREGA

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its performance audit of the implementation of MGNREGA, has found ‘significant deficiencies’ in the implementation of the Act. The plan was launched in February 2006 in 200 districts and eventually extended to cover 593 districts. During 2008-2009, 44,940,870 rural households were provided jobs under NREGA, with a national average of 48 working days per household. In recent times, NREGA workers have faced delays in payment of wages, some of which have been pending for months. In July 2012, the government admitted that the programme is plagued with corruption, and it needs to be dealt with meaningfully.

Works and Activities of MGNREGA

The MGNREGA achieves twin objectives of rural development and employment. The act stipulates that work must be targeted towards a set of specific rural development activities, such as water conservation and harvesting, afforestation, rural connectivity, flood control and protection such as construction and repair of embankments, etc. Digging of new tanks/ponds, percolation tanks and construction of small check dams are also given importance. The employers are given work such as land levelling, tree plantation, etc.

Firstly, a proposal is given by the panchayat to the block office and then the office decides whether the work should be sanctioned. In Rangareddy district, manchal mandal, the dry land horticulture and plantation of trees on the bunds of the fields taken up under the MGVN programme, is taken up in a big way.

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MGNREGA 2.0 is an attempt to overcome the weaknesses of the earlier programme and infuse it with a truly livelihood generation character through a focus on the creation of durable assets and improvement in rural productivity. The vision is of an initiative whose success breeds its own demise, with more and more people no longer requiring its support. Thirty new works have been added to the programme’s list. Earlier, only eight types of work were allowed. The programme now covers almost every source of rural livelihood in every agroecological zone, from poultry to fishery and from watershed development to sanitation works.

MGNREGA updates 2024

  • The Indian government has cut its budget allocation for Mahatma Gandhi’s National Rural Employment Act (MGNREGA) scheme to 60,000 crores of rupees by 2023-24.
  • It is less than the updated estimate of Rs89,000 crores for 2022-23, and 18% less than the budget estimation of 73,000 crores for the same year.
  • The government has switched its focus on investment and not transfers and even on rural programs.
  • In the words of Ministry of Rural Development, MGNREGA is a demand-driven plan and the amount of people days is based on the demand for jobs
  • MGNREGA’s budget MGNREGA was greater in 2020-21 until 2022-23 because of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as real income loss and job loss.
  • In the course of this outbreak was able to implement two social safety nets: MGNREGA and the system of distribution to public. MGNREGA to assist those in need during the pandemic.
  • MGNREGA has created a record number of 389 crore persons-days of employment between 2020-21 and 363 crore by 2021-22
  • According to Government policy, the smaller amount of budget allocated to MGNREGA is built on the assumption that the economy is completely recovered from pandemic as well as the conflict in Ukraine.
  • But, the coalition of academics and activists have called for an amount in the amount of Rs2.72 lakh crore to guarantee legally-backed 100 days of work for every household that has completed their work in the last year. Even 40 days of work that require the funding in the amount of Rs1.24 one lakh crore.

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