What Is MGNREGA Scheme?
MGNREGA is Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. It is a Law where any person who applies for a job in rural areas will be given a guarantee of 100 days of work. If this Employment is not given, then unemployment allowance has to be paid.
It is the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government initiative. Previously this scheme was called the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. But, after April 2008, it was renamed as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
It is a social security scheme that is backed by the government of India. It provides employment and livelihood to the rural people. This scheme was made for the people to live a better life. With the help of MGNREGA, there would be less unemployment. The implementation responsibility was given to the Gram Panchayat by the government. So the people needed to apply directly in the Gram Panchayat to get work.
What are the wages for workers?
It began with Rs 100 a day in 2005. But, as time passed, there were changes in the wages. Every state gives different wages to the workers. The state itself decides the wages for the workers. The funds are given by the central government to the state government, the state government then gives these funds to the gram panchayats. This is because all the workers register in the gram panchayat.
What kind of work is given to the workers?
- Planting of trees.
- Building farm ponds.
- Building toilets.
- Restoration of irrigation ponds.
- Maintaining and building of check dams.
- Water absorption trench at foothills to reduce soil erosions.
- Construction of roads, Anganwadi, etc.
Problems in MGNREGA
The actual benefits of this scheme do not reach the poor workers. There are a lot of irregularities in fund sharing. According to article 243 G of the Indian constitution where it tells us that an MLA has the power to decide whether or not the panchayat needs to be empowered. Now, this is a big loophole in the constitution.
Caste-wise split inside MGNREGA wage payments
The finance ministry has advised to caste-wise split the wages in MGNREGA. The states were asked to divide the wages into different categories for Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), and others. Many felt that there would be a lot of problems with this. The finance ministry wants to show how much allocation is done towards the budget for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
But, the communist party has criticized this. They are claiming that there will be a delay in wage payments, and this is done to focus MGNREGA on areas where the population of SC and ST are high. The officials clarified that there would be no such problems.
This article has been written by Omer Khan for The Paradigm
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