Close on the heels of reports of the MGNREGS running out of funds halfway through the financial year, Odisha Chief Minister demanded that the Centre release the outstanding of Rs 1,088.72 crore.
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (MGNREGA)Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) aims to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
The scheme also aim to strengthen the natural resource base of rural livelihood by creating durable assets such as roads, canals, ponds and wells.
If implemented effectively, MGNREGA has the potential to transform the geography of poverty.
The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Govt of India moniters the entire implementation of this scheme in association with state governments
In addition to providing "economic security" and "rural assets" creation, the act also helps in protecting the environment, empowering rural women, reducing rural-urban migration and fostering social equity, among others.
The act was first proposed by P.V. Narasimha Ra in 1991 and finally passed in September 2005 to guarantee the 'right to work'. The act was initially implementation in 625 districts of India based on pilot experience, later it covered all the districts of the country on 1st April 2008. NREGA covers the entire country with the exception of districts that have a hundred percent urban population.
The act guarentees a minimum wage according to the Minimum Wages Act 1948 or notified by centre (not less than Rs. 60 per day) and ensures that the employment is provided within a 5 km radius of an applicant's residence. In case work is provided beyond 5 km, extra wages of 10% are payable to meet additional transportation and living expenses.
Employment under MGNREGA is a legal entitlement, that means if the government fails to provide employment within 15 days of applying, applicants are entitled to an unemployment allowance paid by States.
The Central Government bears the 100 percent wage cost of unskilled manual labour and 75 percent of the material cost including the wages of skilled and semi-skilled workers.
The act imposes detailed measures to ensure transparency and accountability, these meaures includes to maintain a list of allowed works, financing pattern, monitoring and effective management and implementation.
MGNREGA bans the involvement of contractors and the scheme is to be implemented mainly by gram panchayats (GPs). Under the scheme a person can apply for registration in writing or orally to the local Gram Panchayat, after due verification the Panchayat has to issue a Job Card within 15 days of application.
At least one-third beneficiaries who have registered and requested work under the scheme shall be women and Equal wages will be provided to both men and women. Disbursement of wages has to be done on weekly basis and not beyond a fortnight in any case.
The projects for a village are recommended by the gram sabha and approved by the Zilla panchayat and Work site facilities such as creche, drinking water, shade have to be provided.
Scheme related accounts and records are to be available for public scrutiny, social audit has to be done by the Gram Sabha and to ensure a responsive implementation process a grievance redressal mechanisms should be put in place.
MGNREGA is hailed by the World Bank in it's World Development Report 2014 as a "stellar example of rural development", it is the largest and most ambitious social security and public works programme in the world.