Digitally capturing the attendance of workers employed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGREGS) has been made universal by the Centre from January 1, 2023.

 

Details

  • Digitally capturing the attendance of workers employed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGREGS) has been made universal by the Centre from January 1, 2023.
  • The Union government, arguing for transparency and accountability in May 2021, had started a pilot project to capture attendance via a mobile application, the National Mobile Monitoring System (NMMS).
    • From May 16, 2022, capturing attendance via the app was made compulsory for all worksites with 20 or more workers.
  • In the latest order, dated December 23, the Ministry has ordered that digitally capturing attendance is now mandatory for all worksites, regardless of the number of workers engaged.

 

About MGNREGS

  • The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) was notified in September, 2005.
  • In 2009, an amendment was made in the NREGA Act to change the name of the Act to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
  • Mandate — To provide at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
  • The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (Mahatma Gandhi NREGS) was created as directed in Mahatma Gandhi NREGA and the means to implement the Act so that the guarantee comes into effect.
  • MGNREGS is a Centrally-Sponsored Scheme i.e. the scheme is jointly funded by the Central government and the State governments.
  • Concerned Ministry — Ministry of Rural Development

 

Salient Features of the scheme

  • Legal Right to Work —
      • The MGNREGA provides a legal guarantee for wage employment.
      • Every rural household has the right to register under MGNREGA.
      • Also, at least one-third of the beneficiaries of the scheme have to be women.
      • There are legal provisions for allowances and compensation both in cases of failure to provide work on demand and delays in payment of wages for work undertaken.
  • Demand-Driven — It is a demand-driven programme where provision of work is triggered by the demand for work by wage-seekers.
  • Decentralised mode of implementation —
      • The State governments have powers to make rules and amend the concerned State scheme.
      • Gram Panchayats (GPs) are to implement at least 50 per cent of the works in terms of cost.
      • Plans and decisions regarding the nature and choice of works to be undertaken, the order in which each work is to be triggered, site selection etc. are all to be made in open assemblies of the Gram Sabha and ratified by the GP.
  • Annual Report tabled in the Parliament — 
      • An Annual Report prepared by the Central Employment Guarantee Council (CEGC), on the outcomes of MGNREGA is required to be presented annually by the Central Government to Parliament.
      • CEGS is a statutory body set up under Section 10 of the MGNREGA.
      • It is chaired by the Union Minister for Rural Development.
      • The MGNERGA covers the entire country with the exception of districts that have a hundred percent urban population.

 

Performance of the scheme in last 3 years

  • As per the data available on the scheme portal, 7.55 crore families availed the scheme during 2020-21.
  • However, the number came down marginally to 7.26 families during 2021-22.
  • In the current financial year 2022-23, 5.21 crore families have availed the scheme till November 26, 2022.

 

Challenges/Loopholes in the Scheme

  • Fund Misappropriation –
      • Over the last four years, Social Audit Units (SAU) under Rural Development Departments (RDD) across India have found financial misappropriation of Rs 935 crore under various schemes of the MGNREGA.
      • Only about Rs 12.5 crore of this amount — 1.34% — has been recovered so far.
  • Delay in Payments –
      • The Union Ministry of Rural Development considers wages paid once the FTO (Fund Transfer Order) is signed by the second signatory.
      • However, delays take place even in the processing of signed FTOs, for which the Management Information System (MIS) does not calculate compensation.
  • Banking Puzzle –
      • The rural banks are highly understaffed and thus always remain hugely overcrowded.
      • The workers normally have to visit the banks more than once to withdraw their wages.
      • Often, the workers do not get their wages during times of need due to the hassle and the cost involved in getting wages from the bank.