- Recently, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour in its report “Social Security and Welfare Measures for Inter-State Migrant Workers” praised Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) for providing sustainable livelihood to the unskilled workers including the inter-state migrant labourers.
MORE ABOUT SCHEME
- It is one of the largest work guarantee programmes in the world.
- 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
- Scheme 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.
- MGNREGA guarantees hundred days of wage employment in a financial year, to a rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
- 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.
- Within 15 days of submitting the application or from the day work is demanded, wage employment will be provided to the applicant.
- 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.
- Receipt of wages within fifteen days of work done.
- Variety of permissible works which can be taken up by the Gram Panchayaths.
- MGNREGA focuses on the economic and social empowerment of women.
- MGNREGA provides “Green” and “Decent” work.
- Social Audit of MGNREGA works is mandatory, which lends to accountability and transparency.
- MGNREGA works address the climate change vulnerability and protect the farmers from such risks and conserve natural resources.
- 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.
CHALLENGES FACED: –
- Corruption, leakages & inordinate delay of wages.
- Uneven implementation across states.
- The average work days generated is much less than stipulated 100 days.
- Low funds available with the government.
- Poor asset quality created as a part of the programme.
- The reports have found rampant corruption and swindling of public funds which raises doubt on the amount of money spent and the scheme’s claim of improving rural wages.
STANDING COMMITTEES OBSERVATION
- The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 provides for a specific and significant welfare provision, constitutive of the very idea of citizenship.
- There is no “better scheme” to provide “sustainable livelihood” to unskilled workers.
- Over 7 crore households (10.43 crore individuals) have already availed of the scheme and 330 crore person days have been created till February 2021 during the current financial year. This is the highest for any year since inception of the scheme in 2006.
- 1.08 crore migrant workers returned to their home states during the pandemic.
- The absence of reliable and authentic data/information on the numbers of migrant workforce and their movement back to their home States following the outbreak of the Pandemic has apparently impacted the relief and rehabilitation measures.
- There were a number of appreciable initiatives launched by the Government (eg: Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana), which are aimed at benefiting the Migrant Labour.
- However, no guidelines were issued nor enforced for distribution of relief material to stranded Migrant Labourers. No element of Social Audit prescribed.
Standing Committees Suggestions:
Instant and Immediate Relief:
- Covid-19 Pandemic and the resultant challenges and lacunae observed in the system must be addressed so as to strengthen the preparedness to effectively deal with any such emergent situations.
Credible Database to be Prepared:
- Credible databases of unorganized workers especially that of migrant labourers be put in place to ensure seamless delivery of relief packages to them at the time of distress.
- Earlier in december 2020, the Government has decided to create a database of migrant workers, including workers in the informal economy.