General Studies IISchemes


Ministry of Rural Development

Why in news:

  • Two of Ms. Behera’s sisters, who are B. Tech and Class XII students under 19 years of age, have also been working to earn ₹207 each a day in Odisha under MGNREGA.
  • They belong to a Dalit family in Goradipidha village under Chainpur panchayat.
  • They are desperate to arrange funds to help Ms. Behera, the eldest of five sisters, finish her higher studies.


  • The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), also known as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) is Indian legislation enacted on August 25, 2005. The MGNREGA provides a legal guarantee for one hundred days of employment in every financial year to adult members of any rural household willing to do public work-related unskilled manual work at the statutory minimum wage. The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Govt of India is monitoring the entire implementation of this scheme in association with state governments
  • This act was introduced with an aim of improving the purchasing power of the rural people, primarily semi or un-skilled work to people living below poverty line in rural India. It attempts to bridge the gap between the rich and poor in the country. Roughly one-third of the stipulated work force must be women.
  • Adult members of rural households submit their name, age and address with photo to the Gram Panchayat. The Gram Panchayat registers households after making enquiry and issues a job card. The job card contains the details of adult member enrolled and his /her photo. Registered person can submit an application for work in writing (for at least fourteen days of continuous work) either to Panchayat or to Programme Officer.
  • The Panchayat/Programme officer will accept the valid application and issue dated receipt of application, letter providing work will be sent to the applicant and also displayed at Panchayat office. The employment will be provided within a radius of 5 km: if it is above 5 km extra wage will be paid.

Key facts that users should know about MNREGA

  1. MGNREGA guarantees hundred days of wage employment in a financial year, to a rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
  2. Individual beneficiary oriented works can be taken up on the cards of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, small or marginal farmers or beneficiaries of land reforms or beneficiaries under the Indira Awaas Yojana of the Government of India.
  3. Within 15 days of submitting the application or from the day work is demanded, wage employment will be provided to the applicant.
  4. Right to get unemployment allowance in case employment is not provided within fifteen days of submitting the application or from the date when work is sought.
  5. Receipt of wages within fifteen days of work done.
  6. Variety of permissible works which can be taken up by the Gram Panchayaths.
  7. MGNREGA focuses on the economic and social empowerment of women.
  8. MGNREGA provides “Green” and “Decent” work.
  9. Social Audit of MGNREGA works is mandatory, which lends to accountability and transparency.
  10. MGNREGA works address the climate change vulnerability and protect the farmers from such risks and conserve natural resources.
  11. The Gram Sabha is the principal forum for wage seekers to raise their voices and make demands. It is the Gram Sabha and the Gram Panchayat which approves the shelf of works under MGNREGA and fix their priority.

Implementation Status:

  • The scheme was introduced in 200 districts during financial year 2006-07 and 130 districts during the financial year 2007-08
  • In April 2008 NREGA expanded to entire rural area of the country covering 34 States and Union Territories, 614 Districts, 6,096 Blocks and 2.65 lakhs Gram Panchayat.
  • The scheme now covers 648 Districts, 6,849 Blocks and 2,50,441 Gram Panchayats in the financial year 2015-16.

Relationship between Mahatma Gandhi NREGA and Mahatma Gandhi NREGS

Mahatma Gandhi NREGAMahatma Gandhi NREGS
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (Mahatma Gandhi NREGA) is the foundation for the  Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme Mahatma Gandhi NREGS) and provides guaranteed employmentThe Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (Mahatma Gandhi NREGS), created as directed in Mahatma Gandhi NREGA and the means to implement the Act so that the guarantee comes into effect
The Central Government specified the features and conditions for guaranteed employment in Mahatma Gandhi NREGA 2005The State Governments have to incorporate all features of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA in the State Mahatma Gandhi NREGS as mentioned in Schedule –I and condition of employment as mentioned in Schedule-II of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA
The Central Government has powers to make rules and to amend Mahatma Gandhi NREGAThe State Governments have powers to make rules and amend the concerned State scheme
Mahatma Gandhi NREGA has been notified through the Gazette of India Extraordinary notification and is National legislationMahatma Gandhi NREGS of a State has been notified through the Official Gazette of concerned State
Mahatma Gandhi NREGA was notified on 7th September 05Different States have notified Mahatma Gandhi NREGS on different dates but within a year of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA notification

Activities covered under MGNREGA:

Permissible activities as stipulated in Para 1 of Schedule-I of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA are as under:

  • Union Rural Development Ministry has notified works under MGNREGA, majority of which are related to agricultural and allied activities, besides the works that will facilitate rural sanitation projects in a major way.
  • The works have been divided into 10 broad categories like Watershed, Irrigation and Flood management works, Agricultural and Livestock related works, Fisheries and works in coastal areas and the Rural Drinking water and Sanitation related works.
  • Briefing the MGNREGA 2.0 (the second generation reforms for the rural job scheme) the priority of the works will be decided by the Gram Panchayats in meetings of the Gram Sabhas and the Ward Sabhas.
  • The Rural development also informed that the 30 new works being added in the Schedule 1 will also help the
  • Rural sanitation projects, as for the first time toilet building, soak pits and solid and liquid waste management have been included under MGNREGA. Though the overall 60:40 ratio of labour and material component will be maintained at the Gram Panchayat level but there will be some flexibility in the ratio for certain works based on the practical requirements.
  • Construction of AWC building has been included as an approved activity under the MGNREG Act. ‘Guidelines for construction of Anganwadi Centres’ under MGNREGS have been issued jointly by Secretary, WCD and Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, on 13th August, 2015. Under MGNREGS, expenditure up to Rs.5 lakh per AWC building for construction will be allowed. Expenditure beyond Rs. 5 lakh per AWC including finishing, flooring, painting, plumbing, electrification, wood work, etc. will be met from the ICDS funds.


MGNREGA Works Directly Linked To Agriculture and Allied Activities

I. Category, A:PUBLIC WORKS RELATING TO NATURAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENTWater conservation and water harvesting structures to augment and improve groundwater like underground dykes, earthen dams, stop dams, check dams with special focus on recharging ground water including drinking water sources Watershed management works such as contour trenches, terracing, contour bunds, boulder checks, gabion structures and spring shed development resulting in a comprehensive treatment of a watershed; Micro and minor irrigation works and creation, renovation and maintenance of irrigation canals and drains; Renovation of traditional water bodies including desilting of irrigation tanks and other water bodies; (s) Afforestation, tree plantation and horticulture in common and forest lands, road margins, canal bunds, tank foreshores and coastal belts duly providing right to usufruct to the households covered in Paragraph 5; and Land development works in common land.
II.Category, B:COMMUNITY ASSETS OR INDIVIDUAL ASSETSImproving productivity of lands of households specified in Paragraph 5 through land development and by providing suitable infrastructure for irrigation including dug wells, farm ponds and other water harvesting structures; Improving livelihoods through horticulture, sericulture, plantation, and farm forestry, Development of fallow or waste lands of households to bring it under cultivation; Creating infrastructure for promotion of livestock such as, poultry shelter, goat shelter, piggery shelter, cattle shelter and fodder troughs for cattle; and Creating infrastructure for promotion of fisheries such as, fish drying yards, storage facilities, and promotion of fisheries in seasonal water bodies on public land;
III.Category, C: COMMON INFRASTRUCTURE INCLUDING FOR NRLM COMPLIANT SELF HELP GROUPSWorks for promoting agricultural productivity by creating durable infrastructure required for bio-fertilizers and post-harvest facilities including pucca storage facilities for agricultural produce;
 Construction of Food Grain Storage Structures for implementing the provisions of The National Food Security Act 2013 (20 of 2013);

Underlying Challenges

  • Inadequate Financing: In 2020 budget is the highest allocation for MGNREGA in any year since the passage of the law.
    • However, the allocation amounts to 0.47% of the GDP continues to be much lower than the World Bank recommendations of 1.7% of GDP for the optimal functioning of the programme.
    • Due to lack of funds, state governments find it difficult to meet the demand for employment under MGNREGA.
  • Delay in Payment of wages: Most states have failed to disburse wages within 15 days as mandated by MGNREGA. In addition, workers are not compensated for a delay in payment of wages.
    • This has turned the scheme into a supply-based programme and subsequently, workers had begun to lose interest in working under it.
  • Ineffective Role of PRI: With very little autonomy, gram panchayats are not able to implement this act in an effective and efficient manner.
  • Large Number of Incomplete works: There has been a delay in the completion of works under MGNREGA and inspection of projects has been irregular. Also, there is an issue of quality of work and asset creation under MGNREGA.
  • Fabrication of Job cards: There are several issues related to the existence of fake job cards, the inclusion of fictitious names, missing entries and delays in making entries in job cards.

Way Forward

Short-Term Measures

  • State governments must ensure that public work gets started in every village. Workers turning up at the worksite should be provided work immediately, without much delay.
  • Local bodies must proactively reach out to returned and quarantined migrant workers and help those in need to get job cards.
  • Adequate facilities such as soap, water, and masks for workers must be provided free of cost, at the worksite.
  • At this time, there is a need to speed up the payments to MGNREGA workers. Preferably, cash needs to reach the workers easily and efficiently.

Long-Term Measures

  • The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of decentralised governance.
    • Gram panchayats need to be provided with adequate resources, powers, and responsibilities to sanction works, provide work on demand, and authorise wage payments to ensure there are no delays in payments.
  • MGNREGA should be converged with other schemes of the government. For example, Green India initiative, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan etc.
  • Social Auditing creates accountability of performance, especially towards immediate stakeholders. Hence, there is a need to to create awareness regarding government policies and measures in rural areas.

MGNREGA is a bottom-up, people-centred, demand-driven, self-selecting and rights-based programme. Thus, MGNREGA remains crucial for integrated resource management and livelihoods generation perspective.

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