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Editorials/Opinions Analyses For UPSC 15 January 2022

Editorials/Opinions Analyses For UPSC 15 January 2022

Contents:

  1. Govt needs to plug loopholes, minimise irregularities, in implementation of NREGA in times when it is most needed

Govt needs to plug loopholes, minimise irregularities, in implementation of NREGA in times when it is most needed

Context:

Over the past two years, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme (MGNREGA) has played a critical role in alleviating the economic hardship stemming from the pandemic.

Relevance:

GS Paper – 2: Poverty, Government Policies & Interventions, GS Paper – 3: Employment, Issues Relating to Development

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Recent figures
  2. What are the discrepancies in Implementation of MGNREGA?
  3. Way Forward

Recent figures:

  • Work demanded by households under the scheme has surged as non-farm employment opportunities have fallen and as millions of migrant labourers returned to their villages. 
  • In 2020-21, the first year of the pandemic, 11.19 crore individuals worked under the scheme, up from 7.88 crore in 2019-20.
  • In the ongoing financial year, 9.52 crore individuals have so far benefited from it.
  • On its part, the central government increased the scheme’s allocation to Rs 1.1 lakh crore in 2020-21 to meet the surging demand.
  • In the ongoing financial year, apart from the budgetary allocation of Rs 73,000 crore, additional allocations have been made recently.

What are the discrepancies in Implementation of MGNREGA?

  • It is thus a matter of concern that in such times, discrepancies have come to light in the manner in which the scheme is being implemented in the state of Jharkhand.
  • They raise troubling questions and point to loopholes that the administration needs to urgently look into.
  • The social audit unit (SAU) of the Rural Development Department of Jharkhand has documented several instances of irregularities.
  • What are the irregularities?
    • The audit found that workers were listed on the records but were missing from work sites. 
    • Instances where beneficiaries have struck deals with contractors allowing them to use their names on muster rolls in exchange for a cut
    • Contractors employing contract labour instead of local work-seekers
    • The audit found “delay (in) payment
    • No attendance entered in muster roll at worksite
    • No material supply despite payment made to vendor
    • Wage payment done without work” and
    • “work not found on ground despite shown completed”. 

Way Forward:

  • As welfare programmes in India have tended to be marred by leakages, by problems of inclusion and exclusion, such audits serve a valuable purpose in identifying the gaps in the social security architecture
  • These audits also provide the direction to strengthen systems and processes.
  • There is no doubt that the employment guarantee scheme is playing a key role in lessening the distress amongst the informal labour force
  • Jharkhand state’s chief minister, Hemant Soren, has called it a “saviour” during the pandemic
  • Efforts should be made to ensure that such irregularities are minimised.

-Source: Indian Express

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