Daily Current Affairs for 9th December 2019

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Delay in releasing MGNREGS wage arrears hits 15 lakh families

Paper: GS- II

Topic: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

For Prelims: MGNREGA, (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act)

For Mains: Issues Arising out of Their Design & Implementation of the government policy.

In News: Delay in releasing MGNREGS wage arrears hits 15 lakh families

MGNREGA – Lifeline to millions

• Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has come a long way since its inception and has become a lifeline to millions.
• The Act was notified on 7th September 2005 to provide a minimum of 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
• Social inclusion, gender parity, social security, and equitable growth are the founding pillars of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA.

How wages calculated?

• Wage rates for workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005 are notified annually based on Consumer Price Index-Agricultural Labourers (CPI-AL) by the Central Government in accordance with the provisions of section 6(1) of the MGNREGA.
• The Ministry has notified wage rates for the FY 2019-20 under MGNREGA from 1st April, 2019.

Delay in releasing MGNREGS wage arrears hits 15 lakh families, impact on the poor is very severe

• Centre has to pay ₹1,000-crore dues to the State: The alleged delay of the Central government in releasing the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) wage and material cost arrears of ₹1,000 crore due to the State has left about 15 lakh below poverty line (BPL) families in the lurch.
• In the economic slowdown: In this period of economic slowdown where the economist are pressing that the demand of rural India to increase by infusing more funds to the poor, and the arrears comprise wages of ₹860 crore and material cost and administrative expenses of ₹140 crore. Payment of wages has been indefinitely held up at a time when the State is trying to overcome the pangs of rural poverty, price hike of essentials, job loss due to economic slowdown and such other major ills.
• Women suffer: About 95% of the 12.98 lakh workers registered under the scheme are women and the lapse in releasing the wages would push them to the verge of poverty yet again.
• Audit reports done: Local Self-Government Department sources told that the audit reports have been submitted and replies to queries have also been furnished within the time set by the Centre. All other procedures, including inspections, have been completed and a decision to recover ₹25 lakh in connection with some of the works completed under the scheme have been approved. Still, the payment is being delayed without attributing any valid reason.
• Other payments too due by Centre: This is in addition to the Central decision to defer the payment of Goods and Services Tax compensation of ₹3,600 crore due to the State for the past two months on the premise that the collections are too low.
• Delay in project: The delay would also have a serious impact on the execution of a slew of projects, mainly watershed development, initiated under the scheme, sources said.

Way Forward

• Kerala is one state that had set a model worth emulating for others in taking up projects for creating durable assets and providing maximum employment to the indigent and marginalized sections. The scheme had come as a blessing to a legion of families that are striving hard to eke out a living.
• The centre needs to ensure uninterrupted operations by primarily ensuring allocation of adequate funds for the programme.
• The Centre should respect the idea of the decentralized planning processes through Gram Sabhas across the country and allow adequate fund allotment, according to labour budgets provided by each Gram Panchayats.

Additional Information

Achievements Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

• For the first time since the inception of the programme, Consolidated Guidelines for Water Conservation were drafted.
• Mission Water Conservation – Planning and monitoring Framework for Natural Resource Management (NRM) related works under MGNREGA in convergence with Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) and Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) has been prepared for scientific planning and execution of water management works with the use of latest technology is the focus area of the Ministry.
• GeoMGNREGA is a path-breaking initiative that uses space technology for geo-tagging all assets created under MGNREGA for improved planning, effective monitoring, enhanced visibility, and greater transparency. The initiative was implemented in FY 2016-17, and so far, nearly 65 Lakh assets have been geotagged and made available in the public domain.
• Direct Benefit Transfer: To further streamline the fund flow mechanism and bring down delay in payment of wages, the Ministry of Rural Development has implemented National Electronic Fund Management System (NeFMS) in 21 States and 1 Union Territory. Around 96% of the wages are being paid electronically into the Bank/Post Office accounts of MGNREGA workers through Electronic Fund Management System (eFMS). In FY 2013-14, only 37% of the wages were paid electronically. As of now, 4.25 crore workers have been enabled for Aadhaar Based Payment System (ABPS).
• Good Governance Initiatives: Job card verification and updation was taken up during FY 2016-17, and 75% of active job cards have been updated/ verified in campaign mode. Reduction in number of Registers being maintained at Gram Panchayat level to 7 simplified Registers from an average of 22 Registers has been implemented. So far, 2.05 lakh Gram Panchayats have already adopted it.
• The programme is progressing towards a more independent and empowered system of Social Audit and Internal Audit to ensure growth with accountability through a trained community cadre of social auditors drawn from women SHGs.
• New Initiatives: The Ministry has taken up skill development of the MGNREGA workers through initiatives like Bare Foot Technicians and Project LIFE (Livelihood In Full Employment) in order to move them up the skilling ladder.
• The Ministry initiated Inter State Exchange Programmes, a process ensuring sharing of ideas and good practices. So far, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Meghalaya, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have already been visited by various States during FY 2016-17.

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