The previous UPA government's flagship welfare scheme Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) continued to be under the scanner owing to rampant leakages and corruption since it was launched in February 2006, and there are no signs of letting up yet. Direct cash transfers to the accounts of the beneficiaries, that was meant to counter last-mile leakages, are not leak-proof. In addition, the issues of asset creation, non existence of projects, and misappropriation of funds, among others, remain intact.
In order to check large scale corruption and rampant leakages that have been marring UPA's showpiece welfare legislation, and to improve the quality and durability of assets created under MNREGA, the current NDA government notified that at least 60 per cent of the works being taken in a district in terms of cost shall be for creation of productive assets directly linked to agriculture and allied activities through development of land, water and trees. It was also notified that the 60:40 ratio of labour to material component will be maintained at the district level. Since its inception, Rs 2,70,320.62 crore have been spent on the scheme.
Also, detailed labour budget guidelines for 2015-16 were issued in July 2014, introducing an Intensive Participatory Planning Exercise(IPPE) in 2,500 backward blocks to bring greater participation and scientific methods in planning of works, and to give due emphasis on convergence with a view to creating sustainable assets and providing focused wage employment.
An action plan for road side plantation alongside Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) roads under MGNREGA was issued in July 2014, and against a target of five lakh plants in 2014/15, 1.02 crore plants were planted.
To ensure comprehensive public scrutiny of records and accounts with a view to enhance transparency and accountability, social audit of works under MGNREGA has been a statutory requirement. However, states have been finding it difficult to put the necessary institutional structures for social audit within the overall six per cent administrative cost.
Therefore, to enable the states to strengthen the social audit structures, central assistance of Rs 147 crore was sanctioned.
As per the procedure of MGNREGS, each worker has to manually apply for work. Typically, this would be at least four or five times a year. Now the 'Worker Module' has been introduced into NREGASoft which would facilitate workers to electronically raise their demand.
This would reduce the burden on workers; enable tracking of response to demand and getting rid of huge paper work in gram panchayat offices. As of now, it is doable in 6,000 (where connectivity is not an issue) out of the 6,603 blocks in the country.
FULL COVERAGE: 2014 Year In Review
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