Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act" or MGNREGA)

Mahatma Gandhi Employment Guarantee Act 2005 later renamed as the "Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act" or MGNREGA), is an Indian labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee the 'right to work'. This act was passed in 23 August 2005 under the UPA government of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

It aims to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

The act was first proposed in 1991 by P.V. Narasimha Rao. It was finally accepted in the parliament and commenced implementation in 625 districts of India. Based on this pilot experience, NREGA was scoped up to cover all the districts of India from 1 April 2008. The statute was praised by the government as "the largest and most ambitious social security and public works programme in the world". In its World Development Report 2014, the World Bank termed it a "stellar example of rural development"


MGNREGA program

·   Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act i.e. MGNREGA was introduced by the Government of India in the year 2005 as National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (NREGA-NREGA). In the year 2010, the name of NREGA was changed to MGNREGA.

·  MGNREGA, which introduces rural India to the 'dignity of labour', is the world's largest social welfare program providing legally guaranteed employment.

·   Under the MGNREGA program, 100 days of guaranteed employment, daily unemployment allowance and transport allowance (in case of distance of more than 5 km) have been made for the adult members of each family willing to do unskilled labor.

·  It is noteworthy that there is a provision of 150 days of employment under MGNREGA in drought-prone areas and tribal areas.

· MGNREGA is a nationwide programme. Presently, this program covers all the districts of the country except a few districts which fall under the fully urban category. The Central and State Governments have the right to determine the salary received under MNREGA. Since January 2009, the central government revises the MGNREGA wage rates notified for all states every year.


Permissible Works

The following works are permissible under MGNREGS :-

  1. water conservation and water harvesting including contour trenches, contour bunds, boulder checks, gabion structures, underground dykes, earthen dams, stop dams and springshed development;
  2. drought proofing including afforestation and tree plantation;
  3. irrigation canals, including micro and minor irrigation works;
  4. provision of irrigation facility, dug out farm pond, horticulture, plantation, farm bunding and land development on land owned by households specified in paragraph IC;
  5. renovation of traditional water bodies including desilting of tanks;
  6. land development;
  7. flood control and protection works including drainage in water logged areas including deepening and repairing of flood channels, chaur renovation, construction of storm water drains for coastal protection;
  8. rural connectivity to provide all weather access, including culverts and roads within a village, wherever necessary;
  9. construction of Bharat Nirman Rajiv Gandhi Sewa Kendra as Knowledge Resource Centre at the Block level and as Gram Panchayat Bhawan at the Gram Panchayat level;
  10. agriculture related works, such as, NADEP composting, vermicomposting, liquid bio-manures;
  11. ivestock related works, such as, poultry shelter, goat shelter, construction of pucca floor, urine tank and fodder trough for cattle, azolla as cattle-feed  supplement;
  12. fisheries related works, such as, fisheries in seasonal water bodies on public land;
  13. works in coastal areas, such as, fish drying yards, belt vegetation;
  14. rural drinking water related works, such as, soak pits, recharge pits;
  15. rural sanitation related works, such as, individual household latrines, school toilet units, anganwadi toilets, solid and liquid waste management;
    1. construction of anganwadi centers
    2. constructions of play fields"
  16. Construction & maintenance of approach roads for level crossings;/ railway stations, repairs of earthwork to the existing railway embankments/cuttings/ Plantation of trees at extreme boundary of railway land
  17. Construction of Food Grain Storage Structures


Benefits of MNREGA Scheme

1. Under MGNREGA scheme, rural people get employment in their own environment, the central government has guaranteed 100 working days of employment under this scheme.

2. Under the Mahatma MNREGA scheme in the state of Chhattisgarh, the employment guarantee of 150 working days has been increased by increasing the 100 working days. The expenditure of 50 working days will be borne by the state government.

3. Under this scheme, the application is made by an adult member of the family, employment is provided within 15 days of the application, if employment is not received within 15 days due to any reason, then unemployment allowance is given to him by the government. is provided, this allowance is one fourth of the first 30 days, after 30 days it is provided fifty percent of the minimum wage rate.

4. In this scheme, wages are paid through savings accounts of banks, post offices, cash payment arrangements can be made with special permission if required.


Work under MNREGA scheme

Various works are done under this scheme, out of which the main work is as follows.

·         water conservation

·         Plantation under drought prevention

·         flood control

·         land development

·         different types of housing

·         Minor Irrigation

·         gardening

·         rural connectivity road construction

·         Any such act which is notified by the Central Government in consultation with the State Governments.


How much do you get wages?

This is how wages are provided in MNREGA in different states of India.


State Wage        (Rs.Perday)                                      

Andhra Pradesh    205

Arunachal Pradesh            177

Assam            189

Bihar            168

Chhattisgarh       174

Goa           254

Gujarat           194

Haryana          281

Himachal Pradesh       184 (Non-Scheduled Area)

Himachal Pradesh          230 (Scheduled Area)

Jammu Kashmir       186

Jharkhand           168

Karnataka        249

Kerala               271

Maharashtra          203

Manipur               209

Meghalaya        181

Mizoram               194

Nagaland             177

Odisha              182

Punjab               240

Rajasthan             192

Sikkim             177

Madhya Pradesh    174   

Tamil Nadu            224

Telangana            205

Tripura                  177

Uttar Pradesh     175

Uttarakhand       175

West Bengal          191

Andaman & Nicobar   250 (Andaman District)

Andaman & Nicobar   264 (Nicobar District)

Chandigarh                        273

Dadra and Nagar Haveli   220

Daman and Diu        197

Lakshadweep        248

Puducherry          224


Achievements of MGNREGA

·  MGNREGA is the world's largest social welfare program which has inspired a positive change in rural labour. As per the data, a total of Rs 3.14 lakh crore was spent in the first 10 years of the programme.

·   The program has certainly succeeded in lifting millions of rural people out of poverty while fulfilling its objective of alleviating rural poverty.

·   MGNREGA has emerged as a powerful tool for the empowerment of rural poor women in terms of livelihood and social security. According to the data, in the financial year 2015-16, 56 percent of the total employment generated through MGNREGA was for women.

·   According to the data, the number of persons employed under MGNREGA in the year 2013-14 was 7.95 crore, which decreased to 6.71 crore in the year 2014-15 but after that it increased to 7.21 crore in the year 2015-16, in the year 2016-17. 7.65 crores and increased to 7.76 crores in the year 2018-19.

·   An analysis of age-wise data of persons employed in MGNREGA shows that there has been an increase in the number of workers in the age group of 18-30 years after FY 2017-18.

·     MGNREGA has also helped in the upliftment of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes through the creation of livelihood opportunities. MGNREGA was recognized by the World Bank in 2015 as the world's largest public works programme.

·  According to the report of the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), MGNREGA has played an important role in reducing poverty among the poor and socially weaker sections, such as labourers, tribals, Dalits and small marginal farmers.


MGNREGA related challenges

·   inadequate budget allocation

In the last few years, the budget allocated under MNREGA has been very less, which has an impact on the wages of the employees working in MNREGA. The direct effect of reduction in wages is on the power of the villagers and they reduce their demand.

·    delay in payment of wages

A study found that 78 per cent of payments made under MGNREGA are not made on time and 45 per cent of payments did not include compensation as per guidelines for delayed payments, which is 0.05 per cent of wages earned per day. As per the data, the unpaid wages in the financial year 2017-18 stood at Rs 11,000 crore.

·   poor wage rate

The wage rate has become quite stagnant due to non-fixation of the MGNREGA wage rate on the basis of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. At present, the wages received under MGNREGA in most of the states are much less than the minimum wages. This situation compels the weaker sections to seek alternative employment.

·   Corruption

In the year 2012, a scam related to MGNREGA came to light in Karnataka in which about 10 lakh fake MNREGA cards were made, resulting in a loss of about 600 crores to the government. Corruption is a major challenge related to MGNREGA which needs to be tackled. Most of the time, it is seen that most of the funds allocated under it go to the intermediaries.


Salient Features of MGNREGA

·  Unlike the earlier employment guarantee schemes, under MGNREGA, adult youth from rural households have been given a legal right to employment.

·  As per the provision, it is mandatory for one-third of the MGNREGA beneficiaries to be women. Along with this, provision has been made to increase the participation of disabled and single women.

·  Wages under MGNREGA are paid according to the wages specified for agricultural laborers in the state under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, unless the central government notifies the wage rate and it cannot be less than Rs.60 per day.

·  As per the provision, employment will be provided to the applicant within 15 days from the date of submission of application or from the day the work is requisitioned.

· Panchayati Raj Institutions have been made responsible for planning, implementation and monitoring of the works being done under MGNREGA.

  Provisions have also been made for basic facilities like drinking water and first aid etc. for all the employees in MNREGA.

· The economic burden under MGNREGA is shared by the central and state government. Under this program, total funds are spent on three sectors (1) wages of unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workers (2) essential materials (3) administrative costs. The central government bears 100 percent of the cost of unskilled labor, 75 percent of the cost of semi-skilled and skilled labor, 75 percent of the material cost and 6 percent of the administrative cost, while the rest of the cost is borne by the state government.