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Social Audit of MGNREGA Scheme

Context:

Recent data from the Management Information System (MIS) on Social Audit, maintained by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), sheds light on the progress and challenges of the social audit in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

Relevance:

GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Progress of Social Audits in MGNREGS
  2. Social Audit Mechanism under MGNREGA
  3. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

Progress of Social Audits in MGNREGS

Overall Status:
  • Out of 34 States and Union Territories, only 6 have completed social audits for over 50% of the works conducted under MGNREGS in gram panchayats.
Leadership in Social Audits:
  • Kerala: Leads the way with 100% coverage of gram panchayats in social audits, demonstrating a comprehensive and inclusive approach.
States Surpassing 50% Mark:
  • Bihar (64.4%): Achieves significant progress with a social audit coverage exceeding 50%.
  • Gujarat (58.8%): Surpasses the halfway mark in social audit coverage for MGNREGS works.
  • Jammu and Kashmir (64.1%): Demonstrates substantial progress with over 60% social audit coverage.
  • Odisha (60.42%): Exceeds the 60% mark in social audit completion.
  • Uttar Pradesh (54.97%): Crosses the 50% threshold in social audit coverage.
States with 40% or More Coverage:
  • Telangana (40.5%): Achieves over 40% social audit coverage.
  • Himachal Pradesh (45.32%): Crosses the 45% mark in social audit completion.
  • Andhra Pradesh (49.7%): Approaches the halfway point with nearly 50% social audit coverage.
Low Coverage in Poll-Bound States:
  • Among states heading into elections, social audit coverage is notably low:
    • Madhya Pradesh (1.73%): Significantly low social audit completion.
    • Mizoram (17.5%): Moderate progress with room for improvement.
    • Chhattisgarh (25.06%): Crosses the 25% mark in social audit coverage.
    • Rajasthan (34.74%): Approaching the 35% milestone in social audit completion.

About Social Audit:

  • Social audit is the examination and assessment of a program or scheme conducted with the active involvement of people, comparing official records with ground realities.
  • It serves as a powerful tool for social transformation, community participation, and government accountability.
  • Unlike financial audits that scrutinize financial records, social audits focus on evaluating a program’s effectiveness in achieving its social goals while involving stakeholders.
Social Audit Mechanism under MGNREGA:

Provision:

  • Section 17 of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) mandates social audits for all works executed under the program.
  • The Audit of Scheme Rules, 2011, outlines the procedures for social audits and the responsibilities of various entities, including the Social Audit Unit (SAU), state government, and MGNREGA field workers.
Related Issues and Challenges:

Funding Shortages:

  • Social audit units often grapple with inadequate funding, hindering their effectiveness.
  • While the Union government provides funds to these units to ensure their independence from states, issues with timely fund allocation have left some units without funds for extended periods.

Lack of Training:

  • Inadequate training and resources further hinder the effectiveness of social audit units in identifying malpractice.
  • Personnel Shortage:
  • Insufficient staffing makes it difficult for social audit units to carry out their duties effectively.

Low Recovery Rate:

  • Some states have consistently reported “zero cases” and “zero recoveries” over the last three years, raising questions about the effectiveness of monitoring in these regions.
  • Even states with active social audit units, like Telangana, struggle with low recovery rates, indicating systemic challenges.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, MGNREGA, is an Indian labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee the ‘right to work’. This act was passed in September 2005.
  • It aims to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
  • It covers all districts of India except the ones with 100% urban population.
  • MGNREGA is to be implemented mainly by gram panchayats (GPs). The involvement of contractors is banned.
  • Apart from providing economic security and creating rural assets, NREGA can help in protecting the environment, empowering rural women, reducing rural-urban migration and fostering social equity, among others.
  • The MGNREGA wage rates are fixed according to changes in the CPI-AL (Consumer Price Index-Agriculture Labour), which reflects the increase in the inflation in rural areas.

How MGNREGA came to be?

  • In 1991, the P.V Narashima Rao government proposed a pilot scheme for generating employment in rural areas with the following goals:
    • Employment Generation for agricultural labour during the lean season.
    • Infrastructure Development
    • Enhanced Food Security
  • This scheme was called the Employment Assurance Scheme which later evolved into the MGNREGA after the merger with the Food for Work Programme in the early 2000s.
Features of MGNREGA
  • It gives a significant amount of control to the Gram Panchayats for managing public works, strengthening Panchayati Raj Institutions.
  • Gram Sabhas are free to accept or reject recommendations from Intermediate and District Panchayats.
  • It incorporates accountability in its operational guidelines and ensures compliance and transparency at all levels.
Objectives of MGNREGA
  • Provide 100 days of guaranteed wage employment to rural unskilled labour
  • Increase economic security
  • Decrease migration of labour from rural to urban areas.

-Source: Indian Express


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