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Implementing MGNREGA for Changing the lives of the

rural poor: a study of Madhya Chowkhat /Hatigarh


Gaon Panchayat in Jorhat district.

By

Mrs. Nilima Bora

Economics Department

Jorhat College.

INTRODUCTION

After more than half a century of planned economic development and high
level of aggregate growth over the last two decades we can’t outright say
that the country’s vast rural sector has shown any spectacular progress or
advancement. In fact, India has demonstrated a static progress as lakhs of
villages inhabited by crores of farmers; tenants etc have not experienced
any fruit of planned development. As we know that it is impossible to bring
about social and human development in the midst of economic deprivation
and a major factor behind it is unemployment (and also underemployment
and disguised unemployment). Unemployed persons lack economic
empowerment which deprives them and also those persons dependent on
the former, of access to goods and services required for their wellbeing. The
government of India which is always aware of the dismal rural economic
scenerio has left no stone unturned to fight out the hurdles on the way to
rural development during the planning period beginning in 1951. The
implementation of the trail-blazing act Mahatma Gandhi National Rural
Employment Guarantee Act also aims at the improvement of livelihood
status and wage employment among the poor and thereby bringing cheers
to the lives of the millions of rural poor. The goals of NREGA are ….
A) Strong social safety net for the vulnerable groups by providing
fall-back employment source, when other employment
alternatives are scarce or inadequate.
B) To strengthen the natural resource base of rural livelihood and
create durable assets in rural areas.
C) `To empower rural poor through the process of rights-based
law.
D) To find out new ways of doing business, as a model of
governance reform anchored on the principles of transparency
and grass root democracy.

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Launched on 2nd February 2006 from the Anantapur district of
Andhrapradesh simultaneously the Act was notified in 200 districts, and then
extended to additional 130 districts in 2007-08. The remaining districts have
been notified under the NREGA with effect from April 1, 2008. In Jorhat
district the act was notified in the 3rd phase of its implementation. Hence
NREGA has completed four years of its run in the country benefitting over 10
crores rural households. As an ambitious scheme of the government it is the
biggest public employment scheme in the history of mankind. As an act
NREGA gives a legal guarantee of employment in rural areas to anyone from
the group below poverty line who is willing to do casual manual labor at the
statutory minimum wage. Any adults who applies for wok under the act is
entitled to be employed in public works within 15 days, failing that an
unemployment allowance has to be paid. The act envisages providing of 100
days employment to those adults. The act also mandates 33 percent women
participation .Investment model under MGNREGA are expected to generate
employment and purchasing power , raise economic productivity , promote
women’s participation in the work force , strengthen the rural infrastructure
through the creation of durable assets, reduce distress migration and
contribute to the regeneration of natural resources. The outlays for
MGNREGA have to be transformed in to outcome. So regular evaluation and
sample surveys of specific MGNREGA works should be conducted to asses
outcomes. In jorhat district two years have passed since the notification of
the act. So necessity arises to study the implementation of the act. As we
know Gram Panchayat is the implementer of development schemes at
grassroot level and it has been healthy responsible for micro level planning
for socio economic development of rural people .In the present paper an
attempt has been made to bring out a clear picture of the implementation of
the act in Chowkhat Hatigarh G.P under central Jorhat block of Jorhat district.

Objectives of the Study:


The objectives of the present study are

A) to study whether the scheme is being implemented in accordance with


the operational guidelines of MGNREGA

B)to examine the level of wage employment provided to rural poor and
the extent of improvement of livelihood status thereby amongst the rural
poor.

C)to find out whether it has actually fulfilled the expectation of the minds
behind the scheme.

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Methodology:
We are following a very simple research methodology for this study and it is
based on both primary and secondary data.
• Sources of secondary data are reports published by the office of the
BDO, centralJorhat block, Jorhat
• Primary data are collected from 60 job card holders selected
randomly from 10 villages under Madhya Chowkhat/ Hatigarh Gaon
Panchayat, out of which 10 Job card holders are not demander of
employment. During this study ward members and president of the
Panchayat were also interviewed. With the help of these data it is
tried to serve the main purpose of the study.

Description of the study area:

Madhya Chaowkhat/ Hatigarh gaon panchayat is one of the 10 gaon


panchayats (G.Ps) under central Jorhat block in jorhat district of Assam. 13
villages are covered by the G.P namely Barmukalipathar, Barkhelia,
Bormoinapuria, Tinikuria dhekiakhowa, Bordhekiakhowa, Dhekiakhowa,
Gayan gaon, Gariahabi, Khahuani Bamungaon, Meteligaon, Pheumukhutia
Pathar, Phukanar Khat, Sarumoinapuria. Data related demographic feature of
the area is given in the table 1.

TABLE 1
Name of the gaon panchayat: Madhya
Chawkhat/Hatigarh Gaon Panchayat.

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Total population 8249

Total male population 4255

Total female population 3994

SC population 294

ST population NIL

Male literacy rate 79%

Female literacy rate 65%

Literacy rate 72%

Source: office of the BDO- Central Jorhat. Block- Jorhat

Findings:

Creation of Durable Assets in the Study area:

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The scheme NREGA was launched on 2nd october 2008 in the study area. Up
till now six schemes have been undertaken by the panchayat. Of the six
schemes Indira Adarsha Gaon Bylane development scheme, excavation of
Kakojan river cum breach filling scheme at kapah tali, improvement of natun
meleng Gharpora chuk connecting road scheme have been completed.
Work under Meleng river agricultural bandh scheme, improvement of Bojau
Ali scheme and construction of Dhekiakhowa Bornamghar to Jajimukh
connecting road scheme is now going on and less than 30% physical
progress has been found in those schemes. As the Madhya Chaowkhat
Hatigarh G.p is under flood affected area ; one scheme costing RS. 50000
for construction of a platform for keeping animals during flood has been
sanctioned. The construction of the platform is yet to be started.

Employment generation through implementation of theMG


NREGA in the study area:
Since the 1st implementation of the NREGS in the said panchayat a total of
1257 job cards have been issued of which only 9 cards are owned by S.C
family. But one important thing to note is that 3 out of 13 villages under the
panchayat have no job card holder. Though there are such a large number
job card holders in the villages under Madhya chaowkhat/ hatigarh G.P only
396 job card holders have applied for work of which only 9 card holders have
completed 100 days of work. A total of 10857 person days have been
generated. Employment generation in the panchayat area is shown in table-
2.

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TABLE-2

Employment generation through NREGS implementation


in the study area up to sept. 2010:

Total number of households 1516

Total number of job card issued 1257

Total number of job card holders 396


demanding employment

Total number of job card holders provided


employment 395

Total person days created


10857

Total person days created(for women)


3336

Total number of job card holders


completing 100 days 09

Source: office of the BDO- central Jorhat development block.

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From the secondary data it is found that:
• The distribution of job card is up to the expectation but the number of
job card holder seeking employment is disappointingly low (395 out of
1257).
• Though the area is a severe flood affected area number of schemes
undertaken for flood control is only two.
• The proposed scheme for constructing a plate form for keeping
animals during flood is yet to be started.
• Use of information technology (to end administrative delay) has been
already started.

The secondary data only provide an overview of the extent of


employment generation and creation of productive assets relevant to local
needs only in the study area. For a more deep insight, a micro level enquiry
was carried out to understand the real scene.
In the study area 60 sample job card holders were interviewed of
which 10 have not applied for work up till now. Six of the ten job card holders
who are not applying for work at all are not ready to do such type of physical
labor. 2 sample job card holders are not applying for work as they prefer
their present job as assistant to a carpenter with equal wage to MGNREGS
work, Because of its more permanent nature. They are, as they reports,
holding the job cards only to get themselves entitled for unemployment
allowance. In the following table it is shown the period wise employment
provided to the sample job card holders, who are applying for works under
MNREGS.
To bring out the real picture I have interviewed 100 randomly
selected Jobcard holders of which 10 are non applicant for employment .

Table-3
Period wise employment provided to the sample job card holders
demanding employment (sample total 100):

Total attendance % of sample job card holders


employed

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More than 80 4

More than 60 4

More than 40 30

More than 20 28

Between 1 to 19 20

0 day 4

It is clear from table-3 that none of the sample job card holders in the study
area has got 100 days appointment though two years have passed since the
beginning of the scheme. Only 48% Job card holders are getting more than
40 days employment i.e. 40% of total employment assured . Another 52 card
holders‘ employment is for less than 40 days . 4 Job card holders are not
getting employment at all . Thus it is clear that though the scheme is being
implemented according to the operational guide lines but the extent of
employment given to the rural poor is not satisfactory. Again it is found
during the study that only 24% women workers are there though the
percentage should be 30% and above. But 32% respondents complain about
the women workers not working equally in spite of receiving the same wages
as male workers. It was also informed by 26% respondent that though they
were not provided work within 15 days from the date of applying for
appointment, they are not given employment allowance though they are
entitled for it. 80% working job card holders are satisfied with MNREGS as
their earning as MNREGS worker has made their lives smoother. 20%
respondent MNREGS workers point out inefficiency and corruption on the
part of bureaucracy.

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Problems that are noticed in the process of
implementation of the scheme:

a) Lack of awareness among the rural poor-

The poor in the study area are quite unaware of the objectives of the
scheme as well as of their own right to demand work. Some job card holders
are holding job card only with the thought that the job card will make them
entitled for unemployment allowance. Lack of willingness to do physical
labour also makes some job card holders abstain from applying for a job.
b) Necessary staff and technical support is necessary for proper
implementation of the scheme. But the central Jorhat development
block is suffering from shortage of staff. Though the post Gram Rozgar
Sahayak is to be created in every block, in the said block GRS is yet to
be appointed.
c) Training of local committees formed for the purpose of vigilance
monitoring and social audit have not been arranged. Again different
stake holders associated with the social audit system are not at all
interested in the proper implementation of the scheme .
d) Section 16 (3) (4) of the Act states that every Gram Panchayat shall
prepare a development plan and maintain a shelf of works and forward
it to the Programme officer for scrutiny and preliminary approval prior
to the year in which it is approved. The G.P president in the study area
also is sending the work proposal to the Programme officer but it takes
sufficient time in the process up to the release of funds. So in proper
time works cannot be started.
e) One of the major objectives of MGNREGA is to promote women’s
participation in the work force. So 30% of the total labour should be
women. But women in Assam are not accustomed to the earth works
like digging of pond; construction of roads etc. so even though they are
equally paid with male workers equal service is not given by the
women.
f) As none of the job card holder is getting full hundred days
employment in a year it creates uncertainty in employment and
income of rural poor households. As a result of the programmed looses
credibility.
g) Social Auditing system is functioning not up to the expectation as
Government employees ,social workers are not at all interested in
those programmes.
h) Last but an important weakness of the scheme is corruption not only
with the bureaucracy , but also with the beneficiary card holders .
During the study it is noticed that some jobcard holders with the help
of the panchayat members managed to have their manual work done

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by other laborers on contractual basis . In such cases the job card
holder’s role is of a contractor not of a laborer

Suggestion:
For ensuring better pace MNREGS implementation the following
recommendations deserve necessary attention:

1) To arrange for creating awareness among the villagers about the


immense benefits the act has in store for them. They should be trained
to appreciate the work norms and work measurement for wage
payments and above all their right to demand work.
2) The appointment of a fulltime programme officer and Gram Rozgar
Sahayak in the block is urgently necessary for minimizing delay in the
process of sanctioning the work scheme.
3) Work programmes suitable for the flood affected area should be given
preference.
4) The government should also ensure that adequate numbers of works
are available to meet the labour demand.
5) It is necessary to ensure timely scrutiny and approval at each level, so
that an adequate number of works with administrative and technical
approvals are available to meet the demand for employment.
6) Unemployment allowance should be given to those job card holders
who are applicants for work.

7)course on NREGA should be included in college curriculam.

CONCLUSION:

MGNREGA is an important strategy in the context of rural poverty .


But its success will depend upon the proper implemation of the scheme . It is
the demand of the time to implement the scheme into toe to change the
lives of the rural poor favourably.

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REFERENCES:

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1, Dreze Jean – EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE ACT .. PROMISE AND DEMISE –
Kurukshetra VOL 53
No 7, P 9, May
2005.
2. Chatterjee , Dr. Shankar – NREGS- FACILITATING DEVELOPMENT AND
NATIONAL INTEGRATION - Kurukshetra VOL. 58 , No. 9 , P-42
3. Ministry of Rural Development, Department of Rural Development – THE
NATIONAL RURAL EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE ACT 2005 –Operational
Guidelines 2008 – 3rd Edition ‘
4. Anonymous – NREGA to change the face of Rural india . Kurushetra – Vol
57 . No 12 . October 2009 PP 54 - 57

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