What is MGNREGA?

  • About: MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guaranty Act) is one of the largest work guarantee programs in the world launched in 2005 by the Ministry of Rural Development.
  • The primary objective of the scheme is to guarantee 100 days of employment in every financial year to adult members of any rural household willing to do public work-related unskilled manual work.
  • As of 2022-23, there are 15.4 crore active workers under the MGNREGA.

The objectives of the Act are:

  • To enhance the livelihood security of the rural poor by generating wage employment opportunities.
  • To create a rural asset base that would enhance productive ways of employment, and augment and sustain a rural household income.
  • Adults in rural households provide the Gram Panchayat with their name, age, address, and photo. Following inquiries, the Gram Panchayat registers homes and gives an employment card. The information about an enrolled adult member, including his or her picture, is on the job card. The registered person may write to the Panchayat or the Programme Officer to request employment (for at least fourteen days of continuous work).
  • The Panchayat/Program officer will accept a legitimate application and issue a dated receipt of it. A letter outlining the applicant’s duties will be delivered to them as well as displayed in the Panchayat office. Within a 5 km radius of the job site, employment will be offered; if farther than that, extra pay will be given.
  • On February 2, 2006, MGNREGA was first put into effect as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in 200 chosen backward districts of India. As of April 1, 2007, it was extended to an additional 130 districts. Later, beginning on April 1, 2008, coverage began for the remaining 285 districts. NREGA was renamed MGNREGA by the National Rural Employment Guarantee (Amendment) Act of 2009.
  • The work is usually on projects to build durable assets like roads, canals, ponds, and wells.

Key features of MGNREGA:

  • Legal right to work: The Act gives adult members of rural households a legal right to employment, in contrast to past job guarantee programs. The beneficiaries must include at least one-third of women.
  • Wages: Unless the central government notifies of a pay rate, wages shall be paid by the wages stipulated for agricultural laborers in the state under the Minimum Wages Act of 1948. (this should not be less than Rs 60 per day). Currently, the federal government sets pay rates, which vary by state.
  • Wage-material ratio: The Act stipulates a minimum wage-material ratio of 60:40. The average wage per day per person in 2016-17 was Rs 161.
  • Decentralized planning: Gram Sabhas must recommend the projects to be carried out and must carry out at least 50% of them. Pris is largely in charge of organizing, carrying out, and overseeing the projects that are done.
  • Transparency and accountability: Wall writings, citizen information boards, management information systems, and social audits are all options for proactive disclosure. Gram Sabhas carries out social audits so that the locals may keep track of how the program is being implemented.
  • Funding: The federal government and the states split the cost of funding. Wages (for unskilled, semiskilled, and skilled labour), material costs, and administrative costs make up the three main categories of expenditures. 100% of the cost of unskilled labour, 75% of the cost of semi-skilled and skilled labour, 75% of the cost of supplies, and 6% of the cost of administrative expenses are covered by the central government.
  • Time-bound guarantee of work and unemployment allowance: Employment must be provided within 15 days of being demanded failing which an ‘unemployment allowance’ must be given.
  • Worksite facilities: All work sites should have facilities such as crèches, drinking water, and first aid.