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Understanding NREGA

NREGA is an Indian legislation enacted on August 25, 2005 and it came into force on February 6, 2006, now covers all of rural India. It is also known as National Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS).

delhi Updated: Jul 09, 2009 13:45 IST

What is National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA)?

NREGA is an Indian legislation enacted on August 25, 2005 and it came into force on February 6, 2006, now covers all of rural India. It is also known as National Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS).

The act 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.

This act was introduced with an aim of improving the purchasing power of the rural people, primarily semi or un-skilled work to people living below poverty line in rural India. It attempts to bridge the gap between the rich and poor in the country. Roughly one-third of the stipulated work force must be women.

The work undertaken under NREGA includes watershed management and water conservation, drought proofing, and flood protection, land development.
The NREGA is probably the world's largest ecological security programme.

NREGA 2006-07 budget- 11,300 crore, implementation in 200 districts-27 states
April 2007-Extended to 130 new districts
Year 2007-08: allocation 12,000 crore
When programme covered 200 districts- Rs.56 crore per district
But when 130 districts were added- Rs 36 crore per district
2007-08 - 2.8 crore households - provided employment
Total of 100.3 crore-person days of employment- provided
Together 13.8 lakh works-taken up-31.41%- completed
February 2008- Average percentage of expenditure- 69.09% of available funds
State performance of NREGA ( monitering report of SAMARTHAN)
Tripura - best performing state Jharkhand , Orissa, Uttrakhand, U.P, Maharastra and Bihar-11th -20th position in descending order- states marred with acute rural poverty
Gujrat(18th rank), Punjab(16th rank), Haryana(22nd rank) and Kerela (24th rank)- not attach much value to NREGA- design does not address the type of poverty issues the states are facing
Only 5.71% families -provided with 100 days of employment during the year
Even after receiving the job card- the card holders had to wait on an average of one month after applying for the job.
CAG report on NREG
Report - guidelines indicate in the NREGA have not been followed
Lack of professional staff
State govt to constitute panels of accredited engineers- for the purpose of estimation and measurement of works-20 states did not constitute any panel.
State govt to appoint Technical Resourse Support Groups at the state and district level- 23 states did not set up groups
Out of 20.1 million households employed under NREGA- 2.2 million received full 100 days of employment and wages

NREGA National Bulletin -- Employment provided to households: 4.5 crore

Person days (in crore)
Total: 216.1
SC: 63.43 (29.35%)
ST: 54.81 (25.36%)
Others: 97.86 (45.29%)
Women: 103.42 (47.86%)
Total works taken up: 27.2 lakh
Works completed: 12.09 lakh
Works in progress: 15.11 lakh
Allocation for NREGA in the interim budget-2009: Rs 30,000 crore

NREGA is the first programme having been implemented with full IT support. TATA Consultancy Services, India's largest IT/ITES sector company has designed the software solution for the state of Andhra Pradesh. NIC, a government of India undertaking, developed solution has been implemented in other areas.

NREGA is a panacea for poor people in India at the time of economic downturn

According to International Labour Organisation report, "Large scale social protection schemes such as National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme should help to offset the potential shock to the poorest." --- In report on global employment trends

NREGA is must for educated unemployed youth. As per the last survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) in 1999-2000, the unemployment rate among the educated persons (15 year and above) was 6.7 per cent in rural areas and 7.4 per cent in urban areas on all-India basis. --- View full report

The unemployment rate (number of person unemployed per 1000 persons in the labour force was 17 in the rural areas and 45 in the urban areas. The unemployment rates for females are found to be higher than that for males, and highest among urban females, stated NSSO report on "Employment and Unemployment Situation in India 2004-05". -- View full report

Why should white-collar jobs like teaching not be brought under its ambit? Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has emphasised on the need for government-run schools in the villages to propel economic growth. But for that to happen - and in the lack of any other imaginative measures - the NREGA must include the building of, and more importantly the running of, village schools. -- View full article

The problem is that we have not learnt to create institutions by the people that can deliver. In the entire work on rural employment, while governments glibly talk of the role of the panchayats, little has been done to build so that these agencies can function. There is little expertise and little use of perspective plans so that developmental imperatives can become employment objectives. -- View full report

In case of acute shortage of engineers in the field, a panel of non-government engineers may be engaged at the block level. Educated youth could be identified and trained to prepare estimates for works. These draft estimates would then be scrutinized and approved by the panel of engineers at the block level. The recommendation has been accepted. -- View full report

International Movement of Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth runs INFO YOUTH programme to help young rural people to be better informed, better educated and to create to create jobs in rural communities. -- Details

Vishwa Yuvak Kendra's executive committee, in 1959, came to the conclusion that if youth work has to be developed in the country on scientific lines, a national youth centre should be established, which would provide on a continuous basis, training in youth work to the workers of youth organisations. --- Details