- Recently, the Parliamentary panel raised concerns over budget cuts for the MGNREGA scheme.
- The Committee is concerned to note that Budget Estimates for MGNREGS have been reduced by Rs 29,400 crore for 2023-24 when compared to Revised Estimates of 2022-23.
- The budget for MGNREGA was higher in 2020-21 to 2022-23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and job and real income losses
- As per the government, the lower budget for MGNREGA is based on the assumption that the economy has fully recovered from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
What is MGNREGA?
- Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) 2005, is a flagship rural job scheme of the Indian government aimed at providing employment opportunities to the rural poor.
- On average, every day approx. 1.5 crore people work under it at almost 14 lakh sites.
- The Act provides a legal right to employment for adult members of rural households.
- At least one-third of beneficiaries have to be women. Wages must be paid according to the wages specified for agricultural labourers in the state under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.
- To enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
- It is shared between the Centre and the States.
- The Central Government bears 100 per cent of the cost of unskilled labour, 75 percent of the cost of semi-skilled and skilled labour, 75 percent of the cost of materials and 6 percent of the administrative costs.
- Time-Bound Guarantee of Work:
- Employment must be provided within 15 days of being demanded to fail which an ‘unemployment allowance’ must be given.
- Decentralised Planning:
- Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) are primarily responsible for planning, implementation and monitoring of the works that are undertaken.
- Gram Sabhas must recommend the works that are to be undertaken and at least 50 per cent of the works must be executed by them.
- Transparency and Accountability:
- There are provisions for proactive disclosure through wall writings, Citizen Information Boards, Management Information Systems and social audits (conducted by Gram Sabhas).
- It is a social security scheme to generate employment for the rural poor and ensure livelihood for people in rural areas.
- The scheme sees large-scale participation of women, Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) and other traditionally marginalised sections of society.
- It increases the wage rate in rural areas and strengthens the rural economy through the creation of infrastructure assets.
- It facilitates sustainable development which is very clear by its contribution in the direction of water conservation.
- Over the last 15 years, three crore assets related to water conservation have been created through the rural jobs scheme with the potential to conserve more than 2,800 crore cubic metres of water.