Understanding MGNREGA Scheme – Objectives, Benefits and Eligibility
7 October 2022
The sole purpose of the MGNREGA or Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme is to provide employment opportunities to the unemployed and underprivileged sections of society to help alleviate poverty. It is an Indian labour law that guarantees the “right to work” for the unemployed and those needing employment.
Among various schemes launched by the Government of India, one prominent scheme is the MNREGA or the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. It aims to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year.
This article deals with the MGNREGA scheme’s history, objectives, and benefits.
What is MGNREGA?
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or MNREGA is an Indian job guarantee scheme enacted by legislation on September 7, 2005. The Act provides a legal guarantee for a minimum of one hundred days of employment every year to adults or the working members of any rural household willing to work at the minimum wage of Rs 289 per day.
The Government has merged the old schemes like Jawahar Rojgar Yojana Employment assurance scheme and the Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana etc., to introduce a new scheme such as MGNREGA; consideration is that one-third of the unskilled workers should be women.
MGNREGA scheme ensures livelihood security in rural areas, which allows any adult member to do unskilled work to earn a living. It is a step towards realising the right to work by targeting underprivileged groups.
History of MGNREGA
To increase the employability of rural areas and bridge the gap between the upper and lower class, the Government of India introduced the scheme in 1991. The step was initiated by then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao to boost employment in the country with the significant goals of:
Employment generation in the agriculture sector
Infrastructure development in rural areas
Enhanced food and income security
It was initially named as National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in 2005, which was later changed to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in 2009. The MGNREGA scheme has constantly been updated to keep pace with the changing times and ensure that those enrolled in the scheme get the maximum benefit.
The MNREGA scheme targets unskilled people who seek work opportunities in the unskilled working sector. It has some common objectives for the people who work under this scheme. This act is followed in 35 states and UTs with shared goals for everyone working under this scheme. Some of these shared goals include:
Improve the purchasing power of the people residing in rural India
One-third of the scheme is reserved for women to give women the opportunity to earn a living
MNREGA yojna provides a legal guarantee wage to rural people
The candidates are allowed to undertake any work based on their preference. However, the order of each piece of work, site selection, and other related aspects are supervised by the Gram Sabha (in an open assembly)
The work site for MGNREGA employees has unique facilities such as a creche, drinking water, and shade for workers to provide them with assistance when they are working
MNREGA yojna targets activities like water conservation, afforestation, rural connectivity, flood control, embankment repair, and many other activities.
Benefits of MGNREGA Scheme
There are numerous benefits the MGNREGA scheme lends, especially to rural households. All the rules and regulations are designed specifically for the underprivileged. Some essential benefits that are given to their workers are:
Women and older people are given a special allowance to work in their vicinity.
Workers are entitled to basic facilities at the work-site like safe drinking water, a creche for children, and medical facilities for major and minor injuries.
MNREGA provides a safe, secure, and decent work environment
It promotes infrastructural development in rural areas.
The scheme focuses on women’s economic development, social empowerment, and upliftment.
If the wages are not paid within 15 days, then compensation for the same can be lodged by the workers.
Grievances redressal mechanism is also placed to ensure a responsive implementation process.
MGNREGA works with the sole motive of eliminating poverty from the country and narrowing the ratio between rich and poor
What is the Role of Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayat in MGNREGA?
Several authorities take the responsibility of MNREGA to make the scheme smooth sailing. Out of various authorities, two of the critical stakeholders are Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayat. However, their fundamental role is to make the required registration of volunteers and issue them a MGNREGA job card; the activities of the two bodies differ in many aspects.
Responsibilities of Gram Sabha:
Regulates the chronology of works listed as a priority in the meetings
Determines the potential of the local area, their daily requirements, and resources focusing on that particular local group
Supervises and executes works that fall under Gram Panchayat
A primary forum for the conduct of social audits. It furnishes a platform for all the information that may or may not be required by the residents.
Responsibilities of Gram Panchayat:
The Gram Panchayat’s primary responsibility is to register and verify the details of all eligible workers.
They are also responsible for issuing the MGNREGA job card after they have completed their registration and verification process.
Gram Panchayat members receive the work applications from interested workers, after which a dated receipt is issued for the work applications to each worker.
After submission of the application, the work is allotted to the candidates by their respective Gram Panchayat within fifteen days or from the date when work is sought (in advance application)
They have a duty to conduct periodic surveys to assess demand for work
Gram Panchayat is responsible for identifying, planning, and executing employment in order of their priority. After this, a work list is forwarded to the Programme Officer for scrutiny and preliminary approval.
Maintaining all the records as specified in the MGNREGA Operational Guidelines, 2013 is also a core responsibility of the Gram Panchayat members.
They also keep their workers’ accounts and provide certificates in formats prescribed by the Central or the State Government.
An annual report has to be maintained by the Gram Panchayat, which consists of all the work-related facts and figures and their achievements in terms of work, amongst other details. A copy of the same is made available to the public on demand, ensuring transparency.
What is the Role of State Governments in MGNREGA?
Apart from Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayat, the state government also actively controls the MGNREGA. Here are a few key responsibilities of the State Government:
Frame rules on matters about State responsibilities under Section 32 of the Act
Set up the State Employment Guarantee Council (SEGC)
Along with SEGC, they set up a State level MGNREGA social audit with a requisite number of people who have some knowledge about MGNREGA, its processes, and demonstrated commitment to social audit.
The State Government also implements state-level MGNREGA with an adequate number of professionals.
Establish and regulate a State Employment Guarantee Fund (SEGF)
The State Government also operates the MANREGA yojna budget and its release into the SEGF at the beginning of the financial year
Assign financial and administrative powers to the District Program Coordinator (DPC) and the Programme Officer (PO) for the effective implementation of the Scheme.
They also build up a network of professional agencies for training, technical assistance, and QC measures
Regular review, thorough research, monitoring, and evaluation of MGNREGA processes and outcomes are also undertaken by the state government.
Ensure accountability and transparency in the Scheme at each level.
Generate as much awareness about MGNREGA as possible all across the state.
Entitlements to Eligible Rural Individuals
The workers who work under the MGNREGA scheme are entitled to numerous allowances. These allowances are designed for the underprivileged to help them live dignified lives. Some of the benefits eligible individuals are entitled to include:
A MGNREGA job card is provided to every member of the rural household, which mainly contains the names and photographs of all the members
Having a job card essentially gives you the ‘right to work’ under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
The worker is also entitled to an unemployment allowance daily if work is not assigned within 15 days of them making a registration.
As per the scheme, all work must be provided to the eligible candidates in a region within a 5 km radius of the village/region. If in case it goes beyond 5 km, extra wages (of 10%) are payable to meet additional transportation and living expenses.
Wages are to be paid according to price rate or daily rate. Payment has to be made on a weekly basis and must not be delayed beyond a fortnight.
How to Apply for the MGNREGA Job Card?
This Job Card acts as an ID for the workers that typically includes names and photographs of all the household members eligible and interested in working under MGNREGA. The job card is issued within 15 days of application. It is a crucial document for workers because, without a job card, they are not eligible to work.
Here is how an eligible individual can apply for a NREGA job card:
Step 1: The registration application is made under the local gram panchayat. Three registration modes are available- a prescribed form, plain paper, or oral.
Step 2: The prescribed forms are available at every Gram Panchayat without a cost. The individual has to fill the form or get it filled (orally) and submit it to the Gram Panchayat.
Step 3: The Gram Panchayat then verifies the form. It is usually done on the basis of members of the household and local domicile.
Step 4: Once the application is verified and accepted, a MGNREGA job card is issued to the holder. It is issued within 15 days of verification of the application to the rightful owners.
Coverage Under the MGNREGA
In 2008, the MGNREGA yojna extended its services to more districts and states, covering 34 states, UTs, and 614 districts. The scheme now spans over 648 districts, 6,849 blocks, and 2.5+ lakh Gram Panchayats in 2015-16. The scheme is implemented in all the rural areas across the country.
As 2020 reports, around 227,233 households out of 47.8 million households in India were employed under the scheme and have also completed the mandatory 100 days of employment. The scheme applies to all working adults, men or women, irrespective of their age. A rural household is the only condition that implies to the interested candidates.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or the MGNREGA yojna is a Government scheme that targets the underprivileged sector, specifically those without any earnings. This scheme is meant for adults in the family, both men and women, with all the basic on-site necessities.
The act is an essential step toward the rural region’s economy, employment, and infrastructure. It is also expected to enhance people’s livelihood on a sustained basis. Various stakeholders such as the Gram Sabha, Gram Panchayat, PO, the state, and the central government are involved in the legislation and regulation of the scheme. It has also set a minimum wage daily so every worker can get some amount from the scheme.
FAQs on MGNREGA
Q1. When was the MGNREGA launched?
Ans:The scheme was launched in 1991 by former PM PV Narasimha Rao. However, the Act was passed and made into a labour law on August 23, 2005 under the UPA Government led by former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Q2. What is the difference between NREGA and MNREGA?
Ans:The scheme was initially introduced as NREGA, which stands for National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. It was later changed to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in 2009 after merging other rural employment schemes.
Q3. What are the three main features of MNREGA?
Ans:MGNREGA’s three primary features are: 1. Minimum 100 days of employment to rural households 2. Right to work for underprivileged 3. One-third of the scheme is reserved for women
Q4. Is MGNREGA restricted to particular states or districts?
Ans: It is applicable to all the rural districts of our country. Initially, it was implemented on 200 districts in February 2006. Later on, it got extended to 130 additional districts. Currently, the act is under implementation in 644 districts all over the country.
Q5. How many people have benefitted from the MGNREGA scheme?
Ans:It has been 14 years since the implementation of this scheme. As of 2018-19, 11.78 crores of active workers have been recorded, 4.19 crore assets generated, and 5.26 crores of households have benefitted from the scheme.
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This article has been prepared on the basis of internal data, publicly available information and other sources believed to be reliable. The information contained in this article is for general purposes only and not a complete disclosure of every material fact. It should not be construed as investment advice to any party. The article does not warrant the completeness or accuracy of the information, and disclaims all liabilities, losses and damages arising out of the use of this information. Readers shall be fully liable/responsible for any decision taken on the basis of this article.
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