NREGA/MGNREGA - National Rural Employment Guarantee Act

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The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) was introduced by the Government of India (GOI) in the year 2005. The name of the act was eventually changed to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). This act focuses on improving the livelihood security of the rural people in India.

As per the MGNREGA, any adult non-skilled worker from a rural region of India will be eligible to get a guaranteed job under the 100-day job scheme every financial year. If an individual enrols himself under this scheme, he will be eligible for a job within 15 days from the date of registration under the act. At present, the minimum wages are decided by the respective state governments. This act is effective across all the states in India except for Jammu and Kashmir.

MGNREGA - Key Highlights and Objectives

As per the scheme, the following are the core objectives -

  • To provide at least 100 days of guaranteed non-skilled manual employment to rural workers every year, so that rural households are able to sustain themselves.
  • The core aim of the NREGA scheme is to ensure that there is a source of livelihood for the economically weaker section of the population.
  • This scheme also targets to strengthen Panchayati Raj establishments across India.
  • The MGNREGA has been established across the country for the growth of the rural sections along with providing them the required livelihood security, social protection, and empowerment.
  • Additionally, the local economy can be improved by offering the guaranteed wage employment. The Government also aims to enhance the condition and empower the individuals who are socially underprivileged, or belong to the Scheduled Tribes (ST), Scheduled Castes (SC), and women.

MGNREGA - Area of Functionality

The NREGA has coverage across the entire nation excepting a few districts which carry a 100% urban population. As the scheme is primarily aimed at providing the facilities for the rural population, As the scheme primarily aims at providing facilities for the rural population, the main area of functionality for the MGNREGA scheme is spread across the rural areas of India only. The districts across all the states in the country which do not have any rural population are not covered under the scheme.

New Initiatives in the Wage Employment Program

  • The NREGA is one of the largest wage employment programs introduced by the Government of India (GOI). It is people-centric and has a far better reach than most of the other schemes.
  • This scheme offers a wage employment guarantee for rural workers. It is driven by the work demand of the workers.
  • The Government has also introduced various provisions for compensation and allowances if there are any issues with the entire wage set-up.
  • State Governments are given incentives to offer employment, with 75% of the cost of the materials and 100% of the labour cost being provided by the Government of India.
  • If any State Government fails to provide employment to the rural workers, then the cost of the unemployment allowance should be borne by them.
  • Since Gram Panchayats have to implement the MGNREGA scheme across the country, at least 50% of the projects have to be implemented in terms of cost by them.
  • The MGNREGA also features a Social Audit aspect, where the parties implementing the projects will be under continuous scrutiny and inspection.
  • The Central Employment Guarantee Council (CEGC) presents an annual report regarding the outcome of any project that has been implemented to the Government of India in a parliament session. On the same lines, State Employment Guarantee Councils (SEGC) also have to produce a report to their respective State Governments, which have to be presented to all State Legislatures.

Benefits of MGNREGA

The benefits of the MGNREGA scheme can be summed up as follows:

  • It helps boost the consumption growth of the country by increasing the spending power in rural areas.
  • It enhances the power of the Gram Panchayats.
  • It provides the guarantee of paid employment in the rural regions of the country.
  • It promotes the social inclusion of the rural population of the country.
  • It ensures better usage of the land and water resources of the rural regions of the country.
  • It ensures better usage of the unutilised and under-utilised labour resources.
  • It promotes the betterment of infrastructure in the Indian rural areas.

MGNREGA Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility criteria for the MGNREGA scheme can be listed as follows:

  • The scheme applies to individuals of all the rural areas across the country which is administered by the Central Government.
  • The individual must be a citizen of India.
  • The minimum age to be eligible for enrolment under the MGNREGA scheme is 18 years.
  • The individual should be ready for unskilled labour delivery.
  • The individual who wants to enrol under the MGNREGA scheme has to be a part of a local household.

How to Apply under NREGA Scheme?

The following things should be kept in mind at the time of making an application under the NREGA scheme:

  • Applicants should make their applications either as written statements or orally to a Ward member, Gram Panchayat. The application can be made through telephone, the Interactive Voice Response System, mobile, website, call centre or via a kiosk set-up, as per the State Government authorisation.
  • If the application is in written form, the applicant must provide specific details like the Job Card registration number, date from when the work is required, and the number of days of work required. Applicants can submit a handwritten application or a printed proforma, which can be collected free from the Gram Panchayat.
  • Gram Panchayats have to designate ward members, school teachers, Self-help groups, Anganwadi workers, village-level revenue functionaries, Mahatma Gandhi NREGA Labour Groups and Common Service Centres (CSCs) to receive work applications on a regular basis to assess demand.
  • Rural workers have to be available at the Gram Panchayat Office when they apply for the employment. The Gram Rojgar Sahayak will record all the details regarding the employment.
  • Advance work applications can be made, and the Government has also made provisions for multiple applications to be done by a single individual. The applicant must ensure that the multiple work period must not overlap. Individuals can also make a single application for multiple periods across the year, when employment is being sought.
  • Rural workers also have the provision of making joint applications with the inclusion of several applicants. This can be done through NGOs and other authorised entities or by themselves.

Registration and Verification under NREGA Scheme

The Gram Panchayat will intimate the applicants through a letter or a public notice, when they have been allocated work. If the applicant has submitted a mobile number, then an intimation SMS will be sent from the Gram Panchayat.

TThe Program Officer will oversee the employment process and will receive information from the Gram Panchayat regarding the applications made. The number of persons employed and the number of persons who have not been employed will be given by the Gram Panchayat to the Program Officer. In case a certain applicant has not been allocated any work with a particular gram Panchayat, then work can be sought with the neighbouring Gram Panchayat. This process will be facilitated by NREGASoft.

What is MGNREGA Job Card?

The MGNREGA Job Card (JC) is a document which is issued to an applicant once he or she is registered with the local Gram Panchayat under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme. The NRGEA Job Card also acts as an identification proof for the individual enrolled under the scheme.

This card is furnished with all the relevant details of the registered individual. These include the name of the individual, the NREGA registration number, details of the household, and so on. The Job Card also acts as a proof of the individuals’ entitlements under the scheme. The MGNREGA Job Card can also be used as a valid KYC document at the time of opening bank accounts or post office savings accounts.

How to Apply for the NREGA Job Card?

As the rural regions of the country are not well-connected with the public domain, the application process for the MGNREGA Job Card is strictly offline at present. However, the official MGNREGA website allows individuals to download the application form from the website itself.

On the other hand, an applicant can straightaway visit the local Gram Panchayat and collect the application form. The application can also be submitted in a plain paper. The form has to be duly filled up with the following information:

  • Name of the applicant
  • Age of the applicant
  • Gender of the applicant
  • Name of the Village
  • Name of the Gram Panchayat
  • Name of the Block
  • Details on regard to the category of the applicant (SC, ST, IAY, or LR)
  • Photograph of the applicant
  • Signature or thumb impression of the applicant

In addition to the information mentioned above, the individual will also be required to provide the following documents as proof of identity and residence:

  • Ration Card
  • PAN Card
  • Voter ID Card
  • Aadhaar Card

The NREGA Job Card is usually issued within 15 days from the day of submission of the application form.

NREGA App Features & Benefits

The Google Play Store has a smartphone application which can be used to check the details in regard to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme. The users who register themselves can use this app to check these details in their local area.

The MGNREGA app or the NREGA app shows a number of information. Some of this information include:

  • The list of work details in different Gram Panchayats across different states where NREGA scheme is active.
  • The total pay-out that the government has made towards each Gram Panchayat.
  • The details of the work carried out under the scheme.
  • Details of new and upcoming schemes.
  • Details of work that is available near the local Gram Panchayat area.

FAQs on NREGA

  • What is Unemployment Allowance?
  • The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme has a special clause on the basis of which the applicants who have applied for a job under the scheme will be eligible for an allowance. This allowance is also known as the Unemployment Allowance. This allowance is payable in case the authorities fail to provide employment to the applicant within 15 days from the day when the job application is submitted.

  • Who are the workers who fall under special category as per the MNREGA scheme?
  • As per the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, workers falling under the special category are as follows:

    • Individuals with disabilities
    • Nomadic Tribal Groups
    • Primitive Tribal Groups
    • De-notified Tribes
    • Women - Under Special Conditions
    • Senior Citizens - Aged above 65 years
    • Internally displaced individuals
    • HIV positive individuals
    • Released bonded labour
  • What is Rozgar Diwas?
  • A Rozgar Diwas is to be organised in every ward or at the Gram Panchayat level every month. These events have to be held by the ward member and should include representation from at least 25 registered households. When the Rozgar Diwas is held, the Gram Panchayat can accept new applications and issue dated receipts.

  • What are the provisions of the NREGA scheme for senior citizens?
  • Senior citizens who are abandoned or not taken care of by their families can also enrol under the MGNREGA scheme. Senior citizens can be included into the special category of workers. Gram Panchayats can form special senior citizen groups and ensure that the work allocated to them requires less physical strain.

News About NREGA

  • 100-day MGNREGA Work Limit Exhausted by 2.5 lakh Households in Three Months

    Around 2.5 lakh households have now exhausted the 100 days of all employment who are guaranteed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Act (MGNREGA).

    The data on the portal of MGNREGA+, out of 4.90 crore households which have gotten under work in the scheme from April 1 to July 6, 2.5 lakh have completed 100 days of employment.

    A lot of MGNREGA activists have said that this indicates a high demand for work, and the government must increase the 100-day employment limit.

    14 July 2021

  • Demand for work by households, persons rises 102%, 98%, respectively, in April under MGNREGA

    The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) saw demand for household work rise by 102% in April 2021 to 2.45 crore households from the previous year’s 1.21 crore households. Labour experts say that the surge in such numbers is due to the return of reverse migration.

    The number is the highest for any April, ever since the compilation of data from 2011.

    According to the data available on the MGNREGA website, there is a further surge by 98% in demand for work by individuals in April 2021 to 3.52 crore individuals in 2020.

    12 May 2021

  • Rajasthan's NREGA persondays to be increased to 42.80 crore days

    The Central Government has now increased the number of persondays under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme under the labor budget of the state of Rajasthan. The number of persondays has been increased to 42.80 crore days from the earlier 37.80 crore days.

    16 Feb 2021

  • NREGA spend may be increased by the government if required according to Anurag Thakur

    The government, according to Minister of State for Finance, Anurag Thakur, will not be hesitating to increase the expenditure under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act if the need arises.

    The minister had stressed the emphasis given by the government for the interests of the poor and vulnerable. During the Union Budget 2021, the budget for the MGNREGA expenditure was reduced for 2021-2022. Giving an example of the previous year’s budget, Mr. Thakur stated that the budget estimate was Rs.60,000 crore which was increased to Rs.71,001.81 crore as there was a rise in demand.

    In the current fiscal, the budget was raised from Rs.61,500 crore to Rs.1,11,500 crore to create jobs in the rural parts of the country to help those who were affected by the COVID-19 crises.

    09 Feb 2021

  • More than 3 lakh NREGA job cards issued in Andhra Pradesh for Covid-impacted workers

    The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has issued 3.30 lakh new job cards for 5.53 lakh beneficiaries from April to September 2020 across 13 districts in Andhra Pradesh. As of 20 October 2020, approximately 13.62 crore households received the job cards with an employment guarantee to 26.03 crore individuals. Of this, 13.19 crore workers from 8.57 crore households are regular jobseekers under MGNREGA. In Andhra Pradesh, 1.22 crore individuals from 67 lakh households received the job cards. This included 24.37% from the SC category and 8.92% from the ST category. As of 20 October 2020, the government provided 20.73 crore person-days between April and September. This is an increase of 35% compared to last year which had 15.35 crore person days. More than 3 lakh households completed 100 days of guaranteed work with all households receiving 44 days of average work with aggregate wages of Rs.4,861 crore. Compared to the April-September period in 2019, more employment opportunities were provided under the MGNREGA scheme in the 580 of the 661 participating mandals in Andhra Pradesh.

    19 Nov 2020

  • Additional funds of Rs.40,000 crore added to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act

    In the third phase of the distribution of funds under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman mentioned that an additional Rs.40,000 crore will be added to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act for the Financial Year 2021. With this, states will be allowed to borrow up to 5% of the Gross State Domestic Product compared to 3% previously.

    Along with this, the government is also said to amend the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code to exclude the debt which has been taken during the COVID-19 outbreak and will be suspending fresh resolutions filings for one year.

    Nirmala Sitharaman mentioned that the land, labour, liquidity and laws have been emphasised during the fifth instalment of the Rs.20 lakh crore stimulus package. The total outlay including liquidity measures by the government has amounted to Rs.11.02 lakh crore which excludes the Rs.1.92 lakh crore packages announced in April.

    Under this package, the debt which is related to COVID-19 will be excluded from any insolvency proceedings and will not be counted as defaults. The threshold for the initiation of the insolvency process against MSMEs has been raised from Rs.1 lakh to Rs.1 crore. Along with this, the government is also said to draft a new policy for all public sector units.

    17 May 2020

  • Increase in NREGA jobs amidst lockdown

    There has been a record recruitment under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA)/Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Act (MNREGA) and 22% of applicants have not gotten jobs. These are a few findings of the NREGA tracker which had been released recently by the People’s Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG). The months which have been studied for the tracker coincide with the lockdown, and this has made NREGA very important. The few applicants who have not gotten a job is around 1.7 crore people.

    30 Apr 2020

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