National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme

The policy makers had foreseen that the menace of growing population and lack of employment opportunities in the country would create serious unemployment situation. The private sector will not be able to cope up with the growing unemployment. It would, therefore, be the duty of State to generate employment opportunities. This was very well taken by the makers of the Indian Constitution which refers to the Right to Work under Directive Principles of State Policy Article 39(a) urges the state to ensure that "the citizen, men and women equally have the right to an adequate means of livelihood and under Article 39(d) it has also been mentioned that there is equal pay for work for both men and women. Further, it has been stressed under Article-41 that the State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work. The major focus of planning for rural development has been the productive absorption of under-employed and surplus labour force in the rural areas. A number of programmes, namely National Rural Employment Programme (NREP), Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Programme (RLEGP), Food For Work (FFW), Jawahar Rozgar Yojna (JRY), Ensured Employment Scheme (EEC) with a view to provide direct supplementary wage employment in rural areas. Later on, during the year 2000 and 2004 two more programmes namely Sampoorna Gramin Rojgar Yojna (SGRY) and National Food For Work were launched all over the country with a view to provide supplementary wage employment in rural areas, create durable public assets and to ensure food security. These labour intensive programmes could provide some relief to the rural poor through short duration casual wage earning employment and provide some food security during the period of acute drought conditions. However, these could neither provide any guarantee to regular employment, nor durable public assets could be created leading towards sustainable development. The situation of unemployment has been compounded by the absence of any social security mechanism. There was therefore an urgent need to ensure a certain minimum days of employment in the shape of manual labour to every household in the rural areas. This was recognized by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, which declared in its National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) that it will immediately enact a National Guarantee Act. This will provide a legal Guarantee for atleast 100 days of employment, to begin with, on asset creating public works every year at minimum wages for atleast one able bodied person in every rural, urban poor and lower middleclass household". The UPA government very soon translated its resolution into action. Taking into account the experience gained under the "Employment Guarantee Scheme" of Maharastra an outcome of a struggle for protection from poverty and unemployment, resulting especially from the massive drought of 1970-73. Numerous studies indicate that the implementation of the Employment Guarantee scheme by Maharastra had an impressive impact on the employment as compared to other anti-poverty programmes in India. It is claimed by Maharastra Government that EGS provided 70% employment in the state in the year 1987-88. Taking a clue from the Maharastra experience the National Advisory Council (NAC) proposed to enact a new legislation through the National Rural Employment Guarantee Bill, 2004. The NAC did not stop at drafting the act alone but it calculated that each man-days of employment generated will cost Rs 100/-(wages) at 2004-05 prices. This includes roughly Rs 60/- as wages and Rs 40/- for the non-Labour component including administrative cost. Then100 days per household on an average is fixed as the benchmark for the initial extent of employment generation. Combining these two it is estimated that multiplying the number of households below poverty line can derive the annual cost of a full-fledged EGS by Rs 10,000. The rural population below the poverty, as per census 2001,is estimated as 20 crore i.e. 4 crore household (5 per family).

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The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 was passed by Parliament on 23rd August 2005 and it was promulgated on 7th September 2005. Based on the Act the scheme of National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme was ceremoniously launched by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh on Feb 2, 2006. Initially it covered 200 districts of the country and in the coming three-years all the 600 districts are to be covered in a phased manner. It has been envisaged under section-3 of the Act that the state government shall, in such rural areas in the state as may be notified by the Central Government, provide to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work, not less than one hundred days of such work in a financial year in accordance with the scheme made under the Act. For the purposes of giving effect to the provision of Section-3, every state Government shall within six months from the date of commencement of this Act, by notification make a scheme for providing not less than one hundred days of Guaranteed employment in a financial year to every household in the rural areas covered under the scheme and whose adult members, by application, volunteer to do unskilled manual work subject to the conditions laid down by or under the Act and in the scheme.

It has been specifically mentioned in the Act that until any such scheme is notified by the State Government, the Annual Action Plan or Perspective Plan for the SGRY or NFFWP whichever is in force in the concerned area immediately before such notification shall be deemed to be the action plan for this scheme. The focus of the scheme shall be on the following works in their order of priority-

  • water conservation and water harvesting;

  • drought proofing (including afforestation and tree plantation;

  • irrigation canals including micro and minor irrigation works;

  • provision of irrigation facility to land owned by the SCs/STs;

  • renovation of traditional water bodies;

  • land development;

  • flood control and protection works including drainage in water looged areas; rural

  • connectivity to provide all-weather access, and

  • Any other work notified by Central or State Government.

The above-mentioned provisions of the Act indicate that the Government is vigilant on
the issue of development priorities of the rural India. So far the development works of
Gram Panchayat have been rotating round the construction of lanes and drains. No efforts have been made by the Gram Panchayat to take up such productive and assets creating activities which could have led towards sustainable development. The Gram Panchayat have not cared to preserve and protect the Gaon Samaj property. The utmost harvesting of ground level water has led to the acute shortage of water leading to the depletion of ground water sources. It is in this background that the order of the priority has been fixed for taking up the activities under NREGS. In order to fix up the priority, annual action plan and perspective plan for every Gram Panchayat has become a must. However, the experience gathered through the VANI-UPVAN study of some districts of U.P under the scheme it is perceived that development works in G.Ps are being initiated without identifying the priorities.

 Events

4 Regional Workshop on National Rural Employment Guarantee Act UP.

Status of Uttar Pradesh Rural Employments Guarntee Scheme.

Social Audit  
(Accountability and Responsibility in the Social Development)

One day workshop was organized by Organisation AMAN

One day meeting with the District Coordinators.

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