A critical Appraisal.
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, (NREGA) was notified on September 7, 2005 by Government of India with the objective 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 was intended to provide employment to the vulnerable groups at a time when other employment alternatives are scarce or inadequate for sustainable development of agricultural economy.
The Act was notified in 200 districts in the first phase with effect from February 2nd 2006 and extended to additional 130 districts in the financial year 2007-2008 (113 districts were notified with effect from April 1st 2007, and 17 districts in UP were notified with effect from May 15th 2007). The remaining districts were notified under the NREGA with effect from April 1, 2008. Thus NREGA covers the entire country with the exception of districts that have a 100% urban population
Key Stakeholders of NREGA comprises of Wage seekers, Gram Sabha, Panchayati Raj Institutions (specially the gram panchayat), Programme Officer at the block level, District Programme Coordinator, State Government & Ministry of Rural Development.
During the first six months of the financial year 2011-12 as per reports available with the website of NREGA 31448266 households have demanded employment & 30848011 have been provided the employment. The average person-days per household comes to 27.9 days. 567485 households got 100 days employment under the scheme. (Table-1) The table-2 reflects the details about assets created under the scheme. It give the details of the tasks which was approved but not in progress, task taken up & task completed. Table -3 shows the details about the funds released by the government, it is clear from the table that there is no shortage of funds for the scheme. In-spite of sufficient availability of funds, willingness of the government to provide employment to the villagers, the scheme is not picking-up due to various reasons. The main reasons for the relatively poor progress of the scheme are summarized as under.
Shortage of Manpower
Shortage of manpower to manage the activities at the Grama Panchayat level is an important limiting factor. Panchayats usually have a number of small projects to be taken up in their annual Action plans. For execution of the projects, ground work which includes site visit, preparation of detailed estimates, monitoring of the work, measurement and counter-measurement of the work before preparation of the bills has to be carried out. In general there is only an engineer and/or junior engineer is there, who is responsible for looking after the work of one or more Gram Sabha. This leads to preparation of detailed estimates in a casual way without site visits, generally there is only a single visit by the engineering staff to the work site and the bill preparation is delayed by a few weeks. In absence of adequate supporting staff the working has become difficult in the field.
The Gram Panchayats have been given the duties of registration, preparation of the work calendar, fund management and wage distribution to the Panchayat Secretary is saddling him with an additional burden
The Data Entry Operators posted for the feeding of related data are provisional employee who are not trained for the scheme, as a result, their work is quite mechanical. They also have to perform the duties of an accountant and verify financial transactions. Additionally, being a temporary staff, they are free to quit at any time, which could plunge the programme into jeopardy.
As such there is a need for pooling of human resources from government Departments and private institutions as well as utilizing the services of retired officials for preparing a comprehensive Action Plan for at...