28 Jul Over 5 cr MGNREGS workers’ names deleted in 2022-23
This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)”. The topic “Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) ” has relevance in the “Governance” section of the UPSC CSE exam.
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), its aims, objectives, implementing agencies
GS2: Welfare Schemes for vulnerable sections and their performance
Why in the news?
In a written reply to the Lok Sabha on July 25, Rural Development Minister stated that over 5 crore workers have been removed from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in the financial year 2022-23.
Reasons for deletion:
The Ministry has described these deletions as a routine procedure carried out by State governments. They have provided a comprehensive list of five reasons for such deletions, which include instances such as
- fake job cards,
- duplicate job cards,
- individuals unwilling to work,
- families permanently relocating from the gram panchayat area,
- cases where a job card is issued to a single person who has passed away.
The number of job card deletions is increasing due to the government’s emphasis on linking MGNREGS job cards with Aadhaar cards and making wage payments through the Aadhaar-Based Payments System (ABPS).
Issues with Aadhaar-Based Payments System (ABPS) for MGNREGS
- Payments may get credited to wrong or multiple bank accounts linked to Aadhaar numbers
- Payments may get rejected due to inactive Aadhaar or other technical errors
- Aadhaar does not help in corruption control or grievance redressal
- Aadhaar linking is not justified for MGNREGA payments which are not subsidies or benefits but wages for work done.
- The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) was enacted in 2005 to improve the livelihood security of rural households.
- It is a demand-driven program that guarantees 100 days of unskilled labor per year to every rural household that requests it, covering all districts in the country except those with a 100% urban population.
- It mandates that at least one-third of the beneficiaries must be women, and wages are set according to the rates specified for agricultural labourers in the state, as per the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.
- The MGNREGA wage rates are fixed according to changes in the CPI-AL (Consumer Price Index-Agriculture Labour), which reflects the increase in the inflation in rural areas.
- The responsibility for planning, execution, and monitoring of the undertaken works primarily lies with Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs).
- Gram Sabhas are entrusted with recommending the works to be undertaken, and at least 50 percent of these projects must be executed by them.
- Funding for MGNREGS is shared between the Central and State Governments.
- The Central Government bears the entire cost of unskilled labour, 75 percent of semi-skilled and skilled labour costs, 75 percent of material costs, and 6 percent of administrative expenses.
- The ideal wage and material cost ratio is set at 60:40 at the panchayat level.
- The scheme mandates that workers be given a daily unemployment allowance if they are not provided with work within 15 days of requesting it. Additionally, unskilled workers must be paid their wages within 15 days, and the Centre must compensate them if there is a delay.
Significance of MGNREGS:
- MGNREGS holds paramount importance as a social security scheme aimed at generating employment opportunities for the rural poor, thus ensuring livelihoods in rural areas.
- It empowers women and other traditionally marginalized sections of society by providing them with the Right to Work.
- Furthermore, the program plays a pivotal role in bolstering the rural economy through the creation of essential infrastructure assets.
- Additionally, MGNREGS contributes significantly to sustainable development, particularly evident in its emphasis on water conservation efforts.
- The program also fosters decentralised, participatory planning and strengthens Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), promoting democracy at the grassroots level.
- It additionally encourages transparency and accountability in governance, contributing to the overall welfare of the nation.
Challenges to the Implementation of MGNREGA
- Insufficient Completion of Guaranteed Employment Days:
- Since 2016-17, less than 10% of households have completed the guaranteed 100 days of wage employment per year.
- The average days of employment provided per household have been declining, reaching a five-year low, with just 42 days in the current financial year.
- Demand for Increased Guaranteed Work Days:
- Activist groups and the Parliament Committee have strongly recommended increasing the guaranteed work days from 100 to 150 per household.
- This is to provide rural populations with a safety net for a longer period in the year.
- Inadequate Budget Allocation:
- Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG) and NREGA Sangarsh Morcha demand a minimum budget of ₹2.72 lakh crore for the upcoming financial year to fulfill the legally guaranteed 100 days of work per household.
- Delayed Wage Payments:
- The scheme has faced issues of delayed wage payments to workers.
- As of December 14, 2022, the Centre owed ₹4,700 crore in MGNREGA wages to 18 States, despite the financial year nearing its end.
- Delayed wage payments have been criticized as equivalent to “forced labour” by the Supreme Court.
- Delayed Material Costs Payment:
- The government also owed ₹5,450 crore worth of material costs (for MGNREGA projects) to 19 States as of December 14.
- This delay in material costs impacts the supply chain and hinders timely completion of MGNREGA projects.
- Fixing Minimum Wage Rate:
- The method of fixing the minimum wage rate under MGNREGA based on the Consumer Price Index-Agricultural Labourers has been questioned.
- The type of work performed by agricultural laborers and MGNREGA workers is different, and some suggest using the Consumer Price Index-Rural for a more accurate and higher wage rate that considers education and medical care expenses.
- Challenges in Proper Implementation:
- Fake job cards and widespread corruption have affected the proper implementation of the scheme.
- Late uploading of muster rolls and inconsistent payment of unemployment allowance have been reported, further hindering the program’s effectiveness.
MGNREGS remains a crucial lifeline for millions of rural workers, and its continued success depends on the government’s commitment to addressing the identified challenges and implementing measures that ensure its equitable and effective implementation for the betterment of rural livelihoods and sustainable development.
Q1. With reference Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), consider the following statements:
- MGNREGS guarantees 100 days of employment per household per year.
- The responsibility for planning, execution, and monitoring of MGNREGS works lies primarily with the Central Government.
- The minimum wage rate under MGNREGS is fixed on the basis of the Consumer Price Index-Rural.
- The government’s emphasis on linking MGNREGS job cards with Aadhaar cards has resulted in a decrease in the number of job card deletions.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 3 and 4 only
(d) 1, 2 and 4 only
Q2. Consider the following:
- The average days of employment provided per household under MGNREGS increased in the financial year 2022-23 compared to the previous years.
- The Supreme Court of India has mandated the use of Aadhaar-Based Payments System (ABPS) for MGNREGS wage payments.
- The government’s efforts to link MGNREGS job cards with Aadhaar cards have effectively eliminated fake job cards and corruption from the scheme.
How many of the abovementioned statement/s is/are correct ?
(a) Only one
(b) Only two
(c) Only three
Q3. Examine the challenges faced in the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in recent years.