MNREGA not enough for workers’ survival: GBPSSI study

The much-talked about Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is actually non-dependable for workers’ survival throughout the year.

lucknow Updated: Sep 09, 2017 15:42 IST
K Sandeep Kumar
K Sandeep Kumar
Hindustan Times, Allahabad
MNREGA,GBPSSI study,Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
MNREGA workers.  (HT File Photo)

The much-talked about Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) is actually non-dependable for workers’ survival throughout the year, a study has found.

Some key findings
  • Even if 100 days work was available, it implied income from MNREGA works to be just Rs 1720 per year for a family of 5 members making MNREGA non-dependable for survival through the year.
  • More women workers were visible in MNREGA as it was mainly women who were asking for work as it is household labour, so it could be contributed by any adult and women came forward as they had to look after the household, particularly children besides women workers fitted in well with MNREGA requirements : Limited distance, low wage rate, work for few days, manual work, and group work.
  • Girl children aged 15-17 also worked as MNREGA workers along with their mothers or women adult guardians.
  • MNREGA workers could understand what they were being paid in cash on the worksite at the end of work. They hardly understood payment of wages through Banks apart from ill-treatment and hassles in drawing money from Banks.
  • Migration has increased after introduction through Bank Payment for delay in payment.
  • Siphoning off or corruption hardly reduced with respect to Bank payment (though it was difficult to measure).
  • Bank payment required each individual worker open up Bank Account. This was not found in case of all the workers, particularly child (proxy) workers. Workers did not have cheque books, ATM cards. ATM booths were not visible in the selected villages.
  • Bank Pass Books had no entry of payment of wages for number of days.

Conducted across three districts, each in six separate states, the study has established that a family receiving 100-day work meant that some adult members inevitably had to sit idle or migrate and even if 100 days of work was available, it implied income from MNREGA works to be just Rs 1720 per year for a family of 5 members making MNREGA non-dependable for survival through the year.

The findings have come to light during a research project ‘Impact of Implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (MGNREGP) on Distress Migration: A Study of Selected States of India’ conducted by noted development economist prof Bhaskar Majumder of Govind Ballabh Pant Social Science Institute (GBPSSI), Allahabad.

The study has been sponsored by the union ministry of rural development through National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR), Hyderabad and covered six major states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Orissa, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

Many of the backward or tribal areas were especially covered as part of the study including Jhabua of Madhya Pradesh, Sambhalpur of Orissa, Banswara, Pali and BUndi of Rajasthan, Saharsa and Nawada of Bihar besides Mahoba, Sonbhadra and Hathras of UP.

“The Government-sponsored public works planned and executed under MGNREGP needed to be assessed to show if it can ensure the livelihood security of the people surviving at the bottom of the ladder at their native place. We decided to examine if MGNREGP could retain rural people and stop forced migration from rural region besides understand if the assets created under the programme could ensure livelihood security as well as examine impact of the programme on beneficiary households and suggest policy implications,” said prof Majumdar while talking to Hindustan Times.

In the six states, that covers 54.8 per cent out-migrants out of total, the researchers chose four development blocks from each of the 18 selected districts in a way that four Gram Panchayats were picked up from each of the selected 72 blocks.

“We selected 10 beneficiary households from each of these 288 villages registered under the programme. This included all social categories by castes, tribes, communities and gender living in a village.

The reference period for study was last three financial years with sample size of 2880 households,” he added.

The researchers found that MNREGA created scope for public works on both public (Gram Sabha) land and private land but the workers were deprived of their entitlement as the latter hardly understood by the wage-workers for no memory, limited memory of how many days they worked in such works that created public assets.

“We found that the workers were nowhere in measurement of works, calculation of wage payment, and so on. They were taken for granted by the officials for their ignorance, illiteracy and innocence. The workers had no idea how many days they worked last year or about MNREGA provisions other than the prevailing wage rate,” said prof Majumdar while stating that the final report of the findings was being prepared and would soon be handed over to the union ministry.

First Published: Sep 09, 2017 15:42 IST