New Delhi,Smt.Anjani Bhushan:The Ministry of Rural Development through State Governments and Union Territory Administrations implements a number of Centrally-Sponsored Schemes for Poverty Alleviation, employment generation, creation of rural infrastructure and providing basic amenities for people living in rural areas of the country. The programmes of employment generation include Swarnjayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY), and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) was launched on 2nd February, 2006 covering 200 districts further extended to 330 districts and has now been extended to all 604 rural districts of the country w.e.f. 2.4.2008. This ongoing scheme is helpful in providing to the rural poor additional wage employment nearest to their place of residence, increase income, and generate infrastructure for development of rural areas so that rural people including youth are not forced to migrate to urban areas for livelihood. Under this Scheme, unskilled work is provided, when demanded at minimum wage, on works focused on water conservation, land development and drought proofing.
· Households domiciled in a village (not just those below the poverty line) are entitled to register for seeking unskilled employment.
· Job cards containing photographs should be issued to all entitled applicants within 15 days of application.
· Demand for work from job card holders should be acknowledged and unskilled work allotted within 15 days.
· Works taken up should be predominantly for water and soil conservation, afforestation and land development.
· 50% of the works should be implemented by gram panchayat.
· The shelf of projects for a village should be recommended by the Gram Sabha and approved by the zilla panchayat.
· No contractors and machinery should be used.
· Labour intensive works with 60 per cent wage component should be taken up.
· Payment should be made within 15 days. The State’s notified minimum wage for agricultural labour is to be applied.
· States like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu have used bank/Post Office network for wage payment.
During the year 2005-06, no specific budget provisions were made for NREGA. Funds were released to the States out of the allocations made for National Food for Work Programme. In 2006-07, budget provision for NREGA was Rs. 11,300 crore and in 2007-08, it was Rs. 12,000 crore. In 2008-09, a budget provision of Rs. 16,000 crore has been made for NREGA. An amount of 163.12 crores has already been released for preparatory activities for 274 new districts.
· Water conservation and water harvesting;
· Drought proofing, afforestation and tree plantation.
· Irrigation canals including micro and minor irrigation works;
· Provision of irrigation facility to land owned by households belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes or to land beneficiaries of land reforms or that of the beneficiaries under the Indira Awas Yojana of the Government of India.
· Renovation of traditional water bodies including desilting of tanks,
· Land development,
· Flood control and protection works including drainage in water logged areas,
· Rural connectivity to provide all-weather access. The construction of roads may include culverts where necessary, and within the village area culverts may be taken up along with drains.
· Any other work which may be notified by the Central Government in consultation with the State Government.
NREGA is a demand-based programme and hence, no targets can be fixed under the Act. However, for the year 2007-08, as per provisional figures available 13246.14 lakh persondays of employment was generated and 613023 works were completed.
Operational Guidelines for NREGA provide that one Gram Rozgar Sahayak (GRS) should be appointed in each Gram Panchayat. Duties of a GRS include registration of households, issue of job cards, issue of dated receipt against job application, allocation of work, payment of wages and un-employment allowance, maintenance of records and any other duty prescribed by the State Employment Guarantee Council. His duties do not include sanctioning/construction of wells.
The Ministry of Rural Development requested CAG to undertake performance audit of the implementation of NREGA in 68 phase I districts for the year 2006-07. Some irregularities reported in the implementation of NREGS mainly relate to procedures such as application for employment, issue of dated receipts, job card formats, muster rolls, maintenance of record registers. In addition, complaints have also been received regarding irregularities in the implementation of NREGA. State-wise details of the complaints along with the action taken by the Ministry thereon have been put on the website www.nrega.nic.in under the heading ‘Complaints’.
To rectify corruption and harassment of beneficiaries under NREGA, the Government has taken the following measures:
Transparency: (i) Payment of wages through workers accounts in Banks/post offices. So far 1,39,63,377 accounts of NREGA workers in Banks/Post Offices have been opened; (ii) States have been advised to conduct social audit of each and every work of NREGA within three months. Social Audit has been done in 76000 Gram Panchayats; (iii) A Citizen Information Board has been introduced. This board is to be displayed at all prominent places. This will enable the local community to know the works being undertaken under NREGA and would also facilitate the process of spreading awareness about the programme.
· Gram Sabhas and one day orientation of all Sarpanches at the Block level have been held.
· Leaflets and brochures in local language are being provided.
· Village camps have been organized by the District teams and Self help Groups are being associated in the awareness generation.
· CAPART has been asked to provide training to the NGOs and Civil Society organisations associated in the awareness generation campaign.
· The Government of India has decided to introduce awards to be known as Rozgar Jagrookta Puraskar (Employment awareness awards) to recognize the outstanding contribution by the civil society organisations for promoting effective implementation of NREGA in different states of the country.
· Use of media, TV spots, radio jingles, advertisements, films.
· Development and dissemination of brochures and peoples primers.
Vigilance and Monitoring
Implementation of NREG Act is monitored on regular basis. Vigilance and Monitoring Committees have been set up at State as well as district levels. Local MPs are the members of the district Vigilance and Monitoring Committees. Village level Vigilance and Monitoring Committees have also been set up for local monitoring. Members of the Central Employment Guarantee Council also undertake field visits to various districts. National level Monitors and Area Officers visit various districts to over see the progress of the Act. So far, NLMs have made 331 visits to Phase I and Phase II districts.
Muster Roll verification has to be done in a campaign mode and consolidated reports sent to the Ministry. So far, 4621120 Muster rolls have been verified. 35,36,054 Muster rolls have been placed on the website.
During the year 2007-2008, four Regional Review Committee meetings were held to cover review of all States. These were held at Bhubaneswar (16-17 September, 07), Jaipur (24-25 September, 07), Guwahati (9-10 October, 07) and New Delhi (16-17 January, 08); Review meeting with State Secretaries (Rural Development) of all States was held on 18.12.07 in Delhi; A meeting with State Secretaries (RD) of all States was held in Delhi in January, 2008; Five state specific review meetings have been held. These were with the Government of Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra; Progress of NREGA was reviewed in the interactive session with Members of Parliament held during 20th-23rd August, 2007 and 5th-6th September, 2007.
A comprehensive web-based MIS www.nrega.nic.in has been implemented which places all data in public domain. Details of 2, 56, 74,292 Job Cards and 35, 36,054 Muster rolls have been placed on the website.
*Joint Director (Media & Communication), PIB, New Delhi.