The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) is an important Indian government scheme that was launched in 2005. In 2009, it was renamed as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). It guarantees 100 days of wage employment annually to rural households. As of 2022-23, there are 15.4 crore active workers under the MGNREGA.
Workers engage in various public works projects, contributing to rural development and infrastructure. By ensuring employment opportunities in poor regions, it plays a crucial role in enhancing the livelihoods of rural residents and promoting sustainable progress in India's rural landscape.
Objectives of MGNREGA
The main aim of MGNREGA is to create employment opportunities for rural residents. The scheme was introduced to increase the purchasing power of low-income individuals in rural India, particularly semi-skilled and unskilled laborers. The following are the objectives of the program:
- The objective of MGNREGA is to guarantee 100 days of employment in rural population, especially unskilled labour and provide a reliable source of livelihood to poor communities.
- MGNREGA aims to decrease rural-urban migration by creating employment opportunities locally, thereby improving the economic conditions of rural areas.
- the scheme aims to strengthen the Indian Panchayati Raj system.
- Empower women by facilitating their participation in the workforce.
Eligibility criteria for NREGA scheme
MNREGA is applicable in rural areas across all Indian states, administered by the central government. The eligibility criteria for the NREGA scheme are as follows:
- Individual must hold an Indian citizenship
- Individual must be at least 18 years old when applying for NREGA
- A person should be part of a local household
- pplicants should be willing to volunteer for unskilled labor to participate in the scheme
How to apply for MGNREGA job card
To get an NREGA job card, you can obtain the application form from the local gram panchayat or submit a written application on plain paper. Currently, the MGNREGA job card application process is entirely offline. However, the official NREGA website (www.nrega.nic.in) allows individuals to freely download the NREGA Job Card Application Form.
Essential details, such as a photograph of the applicant(s), names, ages, and genders of all applicants from the household, village name, gram panchayat name, block name, and information about SC/ST/IAY/LR beneficiary status, must be included in the NREGA form or when applying on plain paper.
Additionally, applicants should provide their specimen signature or thumb impression.
NREGA job card details
- Details of all MGNREGA applicants in the household, including address, name, father’s name, age, gender, bank account number/Post Office bank account number, etc.
- Photograph of the job card holder
- Employment history
- Details of the work provided
- Dates of employment
- Unemployment allowance payout details (applicable when minimum guaranteed employment is not provided)
Work covers under the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA
- Water conservation: Contour trenches, barriers, boulder checks, gabion structures, dams, stop dams, springs area improvement.
- Drought proofing: Afforestation, tree plantation.
- Irrigation canals: Micro and minor irrigation works.
- Irrigation facilities: Farm ponds, horticulture, plantation, farm bunding, land development on household-owned land.
- Renovation of water bodies: Desilting of tanks.
- Flood control: Drainage in waterlogged areas, deepening, repairing flood channels, stormwater drains for coastal protection.
- Rural connectivity: Culverts, roads within villages.
- Construction of Bharat Nirman: Rajiv Gandhi Sewa Kendra, Knowledge Resource Centre, Gram Panchayat Bhawan.
- Agriculture works: NADEP composting, vermicomposting, liquid bio-manures.
- Livestock works: Poultry shelter, goat shelter, pucca floor, urine tank, fodder trough, azolla as cattle-feed supplement.
- Fisheries works: Fisheries in seasonal water bodies on public land.
- Coastal area work: Fish drying yards, belt vegetation.
- Rural drinking water: Soak pits, recharge pits.
- Rural sanitation: Individual household latrines, school toilet units, anganwadi toilets, solid and liquid waste management.
Any other work decided by the Central Government, in consultation with the State Government.
Read Also: What Is National Savings Scheme (NSS)
What is the role of Gram Panchayat in MGNREGA?
- Helping people register and get job cards
They register families who can benefit from MGNREGA and give them NREGA job cards. These cards are like proof that they can get work under MGNREGA.
- Planning and execution
They decide on projects that need to be done, like making roads or planting trees. They also make sure these projects happen properly on time.
They give jobs to families based on what's needed and availability. They make sure everyone gets a fair chance and being transparent while providing information about who gets work and how much they get paid.
- Paying wages and keeping records
They make sure workers get paid on time and keep good records of who worked, what they did, and how much they got paid.
- Checking everything is right
Gram Panchayats facilitate social audits where local people make sure everything is done the right way. People can also share their concerns and problems in public meetings organised by them.
- Solving problems
If someone has a problem with MGNREGA, they can talk to the Gram Panchayat. The Gram Panchayat works to solve issues and make sure things are fair.
They keep an eye on how well MGNREGA is working in their area. They collect information, make reports, and send it to higher authorities so they can check how good the program is doing.
What is the role of Gram Sabha in MGNREGA?
- Prioritising local works based on their potential in the area.
- Monitoring the execution of work within the Gram Panchayat.
- Serving as the primary forum for social audits.
- Providing a platform to address workers' queries related to any MGNREGA work.
Role of state governments in MGNREGA
- Formulating rules to outline the state's responsibilities under the act.
- Establishing the State Employment Guarantee Council.
- Setting up the State Employment Guarantee Fund (SEGF).
- Ensuring the appointment of Employment Guarantee Assistants (Gram Rozgar Sahayak), as well as Personnel Officers and staff at the State, district, cluster, and Gram Panchayat levels for the effective execution of the scheme.
Role of State Employment Guarantee Council (SEGC) in MGNREGA
- Offering suggestions for enhancing the scheme's execution.
- Monitoring the scheme's progress.
- Recommending work proposals to the central government.
- Creating awareness about the scheme and its features in districts.
MGNREGA not just offers employment but a pathway to sustainable rural development. By ensuring 100 days of work annually, empowering marginalised communities. Through its diverse projects and community-focused approach, MGNREGA has become an important instrument for transforming the rural areas of India.
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