Right to Work (MG-NREGA)
The Performance Audit of the implementation of NREGA by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, cag.gov.in/html/reports/civil/2008_PA11_nregacivil/Exe-sum.pdf show:
• A Performance Audit of the implementation of NREGA in the initially notified 200 districts was taken up during May–September 2007, in response to a request from the Ministry of Rural Development, so as to provide assurance that the processes under the Act were put in place and were being adopted effectively by the State Governments.
• Of the total available funds of Rs. 12074 crore (including the States’ share of Rs 813 crore) upto March 2007, the State Governments could utilize Rs. 8823 crore (73 per cent)
• According to the Ministry of Rural Development’s figures, 3.81 crore households had registered under the Act, Out of these, while, 2.12 crore households had demanded employment, 2.10 crore households were provided employment during 2006-07.
• The applications for work are to be submitted primarily at the Gram Panchayat, and it was crucial to maintain proper records of employment demanded, employment provided, number of days of employment generated, entitlement for employment allowance etc. However, the examination of field-level records by Audit reveled that record maintenance, particularly at GP level was poor, demonstrating the lack reliability and authenticity of the reported figures. Also, as the applications for demand for work were not documented or dated, and dated receipts for such applications were not issued in most cases, the eligibility of rural households for unemployment allowance, in these cases, was unverifiable. This would indicate that there is a high probability of only partial capturing of the demand for work.
• There were several cases of delayed payment of wages, for which no compensation was paid. While there was a high probability that all demands for work were not being captured, there were also instances of non-payment of unemployment allowance, which became due to employment seekers even where the records indicated that demand was not provided within 15 days from date of demand. Yet no one was fined for the violation of the Act. This indicates lack of an effective grievance redressal mechanism which defeated the very purpose of the Act of conferring a statutory right on the rural households for demanding upto 100 days of employment.
• The poor record maintenance further diluted the purpose of the Act as in the absence of dated acknowledgement of the application for work, there was no way the employment seekers could prove denial of demanded work and could claim entitlement for unemployment allowance.
• Systems for financial management and tracking were deficient, as monthly squaring and reconciliation of accounts at different levels to maintain financial accountability and transparency was not being done. The status of inspection of works, and holding of Gram Sabhas to conduct Social Audit Forum was also not up to the mark.
• Subsequent to the original audit, some of the sampled districts were revisited to check the improvement in maintenance of records in February-March 2008, covering 24 GPs in 12 blocks in 12 districts in 6 States from within the original audit sample. The scrutiny revealed that while there was a definite improvement in record maintenance especially in Uttar Pradesh after the conduct of initial audit, the maintenance of basic records at the GP level, in particular the employment register was still deficient and there was considerable scope for improvement.
Funding of NREGA
• The Governments of Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Manipur, Punjab, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu (13 States) did not formulate rules for carrying out the provisions of the Act as of March 2007
• The Governments of Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and West Bengal (16 States) did not prescribe the time frame for each level i.e. GP, Block and District levels for proposing, scrutinising and approving REGS works
• While 18 State Governments had designated an officer as State Rural Employment Guarantee Commissioner, the State Governments of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Nagaland, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand (7 States) had not done so as of March 2007
• The Governments of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal (20 States) did not appoint full-time dedicated Programme Officers (POs) in 102 test checked blocks. The existing Block Development Offices (BDOs) were appointed as POs and given the additional charge of the Scheme
• Out of 68 districts test checked, District Perspective Plans (DPPs) were not prepared by 40 districts in Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Manipur, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal (17 States)
• Door-to-door survey to identify persons willing to register was not conducted in 323 Gram Panchayats in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Manipur, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal (20 States)
• Delays in issue of job cards were noticed in 196 Gram Panchayats in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Manipur, Orissa, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal (16 States)
• Photographs of the applicants were not attached to job cards in 251 Gram Panchayatss in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal (13 States)
• In 19 districts in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh (7 States), the wages-material ratio of 60:40 was not maintained at the district level
• The Governments of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Punjab, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand (16 States) did not prepare separate District-wise Schedules of Rates (DSRs) specifically for NREGA works
• In 79 Gram Panchayats in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu (12 States), the workers, even after working for seven hours, were paid wages less than the minimum wage rate
• In 213 Gram Panchayats in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Orissa, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal (17 States), workers were not paid wages on time i.e. within a fortnight of the date on which the work was done. No compensation was paid to them
• Audit scrutiny in 58 blocks in Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand (17 States) revealed that unemployment allowance was not paid to those workers, who could not be provided with employment within 15 days from the date on which work was requested for
• In 246 Gram Panchayats in Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal (15 States), copies of muster rolls were not available for public scrutiny in the Gram Panchayats
According to the Centre for Science and Environment, www.cseindia.org,
• Governments have failed to articulate the Act’s development potential. Instead of implementing and evaluating the Act purely in terms of employment creation, the focus should have been on the real impacts on local development through productive assets creation
• Irrational wage calculations have made projects like water conservation less lucrative
• Out of a total of 769,582 works under progress, only 158,277 (20.56 per cent) have been completed. Till August 2007, only about 14 per cent of water conservation works under NREGA had been completed.
• In fact, road construction projects were getting done at a faster rate
• Bad planning for water conservation structures is putting a large number of the assets created into disuse. For instance, water-harvesting structures have been created without any provision for catchment protection. On top of this, ‘maintenance work’ does not come under the ambit of NREGA as a permissible activity. As a result, districts, which already have large numbers of water harvesting structures and want to use NREGA money for their maintenance, can’t do so
The study titled “Evaluating Performance of national Rural Employment Guarantee Act”, which has been done by Public Interest Foundation (PIF) and National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) show,
The study has made the following recommendations:
Responsibility of Government of India to provide funds through an easy and convenient mechanism
According to the Digging holes and filling them in again? How far do public works enhance livelihoods? by Anna McCord and John Farrington,
Problems with the implementation of NREGA
Long term public works in India – the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA):
The Act builds on earlier experience with Employment Guarantee in Maharashtra. Apart from affirming the ‘right to work’, it also seeks to ensure that the poor have a voice in decisions on the works to be undertaken, so that such works contribute to their livelihoods. The core features of the Act are:
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