Decentralise MGNREGS for better implementation, says study

Source: The post is based on the article “Decentralise MGNREGS for better implementation, says study” published in The Hindu on 1st November 2022.

What is the News?

An internal study commissioned by the Ministry of Rural Development has argued for decentralization of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme(MGNREGS) allowing for more “flexibility” at the ground level. 

What is MGNREGA?

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About the study on MGNREGA

The Ministry of Rural Development has commissioned an internal study to assess the implementation of all rural development schemes, including the MGNREGS. 

The members of the study group surveyed seven States — Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Nagaland, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh — and the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.

What are the problems found by the study on MGNREGA?

Firstly, fund management has been centralized instead of paying the gram sabhas an advance enabling them to decide the work they want to undertake.

Secondly, frequent delays in fund dispersal. The survey quoted various instances to underline this chronic problem. 

– In the Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh, for example, the surveyors found that because of the delay in the material component the beneficiaries ended up buying the construction material themselves to complete the projects. 

– In Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, the delay in wages was by three or four months and the material component was delayed by six months. 

Thirdly, MGNREGA wages were far below the market rate in many states defeating the purpose of acting as a safety net.

– At present, the minimum wage of a farm labourer in Gujarat is ₹324.20 but the MGNREGA wage is ₹229. The private contractors pay far more. In Nagaland, the wage is ₹212 per day, which does not take into account the difficult terrain conditions. 

What are the suggestions given by the study on MGNREGA?

Decentralization of the MGNREGA scheme allowing for more “flexibility” at the ground level.

Greater diversification of permissible works instead of listing the types of permissible works, broad categories of works may be listed out and flexibility should be given at ground level to select the type of works as per broad categories.

Revolving funds can be setup. This fund can be utilized whenever there is a delay in the Central funds.

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