The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) aims at enhancing the livelihood security of people in rural areas by guaranteeing 100 days of wage-employment in a financial year to a rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. It is an Indian job guarantee scheme enacted by legislation on August 25, 2005. The scheme provides a legal guarantee for 100 days of employment in every financial year to adult members of any rural household willing to do public work-related unskilled manual work at the statutory minimum wage of Rs. 120 per day in 2009 prices. The central government outlay for the scheme in FY 2010-11 is 40000 Crore.
This act was introduced with an aim of improving the purchasing power of the rural people, primarily semi or unskilled work to people living in rural India, whether or not they are below the poverty line. Around one-third of the stipulated work force is women. The law was initially called the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act but was renamed on 2nd October 2009 as National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA).
Provisions under NREGA
Adult members of a rural household, willing to do unskilled manual work, are required to make registration in writing or orally to the local Gram Panchayat.
The Gram Panchayat after due verification will issue a Job Card. The Job Card will bear the photograph of all adult members of the household willing to work under NREGA and is free of cost.
The Job Card should be issued within 15 days of application.
A Job Card holder may submit a written application for employment to the Gram Panchayat, stating the time and duration for which work is sought. The minimum days of employment have to be at least 14.
Employment will be given within 15 days of application for work. If it is not, then daily unemployment allowance as per the Act has to be paid. Liability of payment of unemployment allowance is of the states.
Work should ordinarily be provided within 5 km radius of the village. In case work is provided beyond 5 km, extra wages of 10% are payable to meet additional transportation and living expenses.
Wages are to be paid according to the Minimum Wages Act 1948 for agricultural labourers in the state. Equal wages will be provided to both men and women.
Later NREGA's minimum wage has been changed to Rs. 120 per day.
Even lot of old aged peoples (aged 70+) are part of the work. It isn't practical to have them for such manual muscle power work.
At most places they start by 9-10 am and close the work by 1-2 pm (3-4hrs). Even in these work hours productivity of the workforce is very poor and is almost negligible work.
Most of the work that gets done by this manual workforce can be done efficiently and economically with the help of machines.
Most of the people go to work even where there is lot of agriculture work is available at a high wages. NREGA pays Rs.120/- per day for both male and female but farmers who are in need are already paying Rs. 150/- per day for female and Rs. 200-300/- per day for male.
At most places the commission of 10% or more goes to the local officials.
One of the NREGA beneficiaries who get back to normal work environment at private farm/industry told "These works made us lazy by enjoying such a relaxed work environment and now we find it difficult to deliver the same old original productivity again".
Diverting almost the entire workforce in a village to such schemes really ruins the agriculture happening and many farmers are loosing their sowing/ harvest/maintenance cycles in time.
MNREGA has also encouraged the transfer of local solutions and best practices through the online Knowledge Network. By enhancing livelihood opportunities, MNREGA is poised to progress from a wage employment to sustainable development program.